Back sprains and strains are the most common disabling injuries for construction workers. Laborers, carpenters, electricians, roofers and plumbers/pipefitters have the most injuries. Many of these are from overexertion and bodily motion. Injury sources include containers, wood/lumber, and tools. Working below the knees, working above shoulder height, doing repetitive jobs, and moving heavy things are common risk factors for ergonomic injuries.
Ergonomics is the science and art of fitting the job to the workers. Through training, worksite assessments and annual lectures at the Construction Safety Council in Chicago, ETC helps improve overall ergonomics and reduce injury potential at construction sites Common issues addressed include:
- Planning and organizing work and setting up laydown areas so materials are handled, moved or carried the minimum distances and number of times.
- Keeping access paths and walkways level, clear and slip-resistant, to prevent slips and falls.
- Setting up work so it can be done above the knees and below the shoulders. (i.e., on a waist-level work table or saw horses)
- Ways that work can also be done in a sitting position to prevent prolonged standing, stooping, kneeling or squatting.
- Breaks or trade off with workers doing different jobs for repetitive or long duration jobs.
- Recommendations for material handling equipment (such fork lifts, cranes, hoists, pallet jacks or carts) to move heavy materials or containers.
- Selection and maintenance of powered and non-powered hand tools to reduce awkward postures, forceful exertions, contact stresses, and vibration.
Recent ETC projects in the construction industry include:
Developed and conducted 6 full day training sessions in Construction Ergonomics. Training was delivered in the Bovis Corporate training suites and each session was attended by 40 engineers, planners, designers, contractors and workers.
Developed and conducted construction training for one of their largest projects. Bechtel is building the site that will convert nuclear waste water into glass.