The construction industry is a very challenging arena for ergonomics. Construction injuries and illnesses amount to a significant burden on the industry with over 1/2 million injuries and illnesses reported in 2000.
Despite these numbers it is not easy to walk into a hardware store or building supply store and find products or solutions addressing ergonomics in this industry.
The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), a joint labor-management organization, is hoping to change that. According to the LHSFNA musculoskeletal injuries are the most common injury problem in the construction industry. They are over one-third of all lost workday injuries and produce about half of all compensation claims. In a recent survey, 40 percent of construction workers said “working while hurt” is a major problem.
To address this, the LHSFNA has compiled the latest information about ergonomics in the construction industry and made it available to the public on their website. Available information includes case studies of common construction tasks such as masonry, shoveling and rebar tying. Some offer product solutions like a rebar tying gun, while others offer alternative engineering controls such as redesigning common materials such as drywall and bricks.
Ergonomics fact sheets are available for common tasks such as asbestos handling, fireproofing, hand tool use, plaster tending and scaffolding.
The site also includes a bibliography of published articles concerning ergonomics in the construction industry as well as abstracts from conferences on the subject.
For more information see LHSFNA at http://www.lhsfna.org/html/ergo_resrclinks.html.
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2002-08-01.