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Construction Ergonomics: 

Construction Ergonomics This material was developed for a company’s use based on its needs and requirements. It may not be applicable to the needs and requirements of others. This training material should not be used without independent review and approval of technical and legal experts for the organization and area of use.


Outline Review Basic Ergonomics Principles What is ergonomics? Types of ergonomic injuries Importance of early reporting Stretching basics Ergonomic risk factors present in construction Ergonomics tips to minimize risk factor exposure Summary

What is Ergonomics?: 

Ergonomics (er'gõ nom'iks): The study of work and the relationship of work to the physical and cognitive capabilities of people Fitting the job (tools, tasks, and environment) to the employee, instead of forcing the worker to fit the job Ergonomic principles derived from many areas, including: Biomechanics Physiology Anthropometry Industrial engineering Safety What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomic Injuries: 

Ergonomic Injuries Two classifications of ergonomic injuries Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD’s) – exposure driven Strains/Sprains – instantaneous (event driven)

Ergonomic Injuries: 

Ergonomic Injuries Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD’s) Injury to soft tissue caused by prolonged exposure to multiple ergonomic risk factors Typically develop in small body segments (i.e. fingers, wrists, elbows, and neck) Examples of CTD’s Tendon disorders: Inflammation of tendon and/or tendon sheathing caused by repeated rubbing against ligaments, bone, etc. Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) Nerve disorders: Compression of nerves from repeated or sustained exposure to sharp edges, bones, ligaments, and/or tendons Carpal tunnel syndrome Neurovascular disorders: Compression of blood vessels and/or nerves from repeated exposure to vibration or cold temperatures Raynaud’s phenomenon (white finger syndrome)

Ergonomic Injuries: 

Ergonomic Injuries Strains & Sprains Injury to connective tissue caused by single forceful event: lifting heavy objects in awkward position Common to large body segments (i.e. back, legs, and shoulders) Risk of injury increases with the presence of multiple risk factors

Early Reporting of Ergonomic Issues: 

Early Reporting of Ergonomic Issues Proactive Reporting: Report suspected ergonomics risk factors to your supervisor and safety committee representative Early Reporting Process: Report pain or discomfort associated with work to your supervisor and Occupational Health Services Benefits to Early Reporting: Leads to early care and quicker healing, preventing chronic problems Leads to quicker identification of the root cause of the injury Will initiate an ergonomics evaluation by trained personnel

Stretching Basics: 

Stretching Basics Benefits of stretching: Increases flexibility/elasticity of muscles Increases circulation to warm the muscles, improving mental alertness, reducing fatigue Decreases muscle tension and stress When to Stretch: Prior to starting your day During short breaks (at least once per hour) After breaks or lunch to prevent fatigue If tension or stress is apparent After a lengthy task duration or an extended awkward posture

Stretching Basics: 

Stretching Basics Proper stretching techniques: Relax and breathe normally. Do not hold your breath. Hold each stretch for a count of 15, or as long as comfort is maintained. Use gentle, controlled motions. Do not bounce! Keep the knees slightly bent for better balance. Stretch until a mild tension is felt, then relax. Stretch by how you feel and not by how far you can go.

Ergonomic Risk Factors: 

Ergonomic Risk Factors Risk of injury increases with: Prolonged exposure to any of these ergonomic risk factors Presence of multiple risk factors within a single job task

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures: 

Avoid overhead reaching and kneeling when possible Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures Work near elbow height to avoid bending excessive bending

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures Where awkward postures are unavoidable, change tasks, stretch, and take short breaks frequently

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Awkward Postures Select the correct tool handle orientation based upon worksurface height/orientation (when possible)


Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Force Use mechanical lift assists and carts when available Avoid manually handling heavy objects (more than 35 pounds) Avoid carrying objects more than 100 feet Practice Proper Cart Handling Push instead of pulling Use both hands when pushing Stand directly behind the cart when pushing (avoid twisting your body) Maintain good control and limit speed Ensure cart is not overloaded


Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Force Use proper lifting techniques when lifting Examine the load and the surrounding area Bend knees when lifting a load Look forward to keep back straight Position the load close to the body Maintain a firm grip on the load Use smooth, controlled movements Keep arms in front of body Turn feet in direction of movement to avoid twisting Get help before performing tasks requiring excessive force

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Force: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Force A lift, hoist or other mechanical assistance is unavailable The object is heavier than you are capable of lifting alone (typically more than 35 pounds) The object is not heavier than what two people are capable of lifting (typically less than 60 pounds) The object is awkward or oversized. Any object that does not have its weight equally distributed within the load. Remember some objects are too heavy or awkward to be handled with two people A Two-Person Lift Is Appropriate When. . .


Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Force Use the correct tools / powered tools for the task Powered tools tend to require less exertion to perform a task Ensure that the weight of a powered tool (and cording) does not create additional force issues Use only the amount of force necessary to complete the task

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Repetition: 

Repetition: Use power tools when available Change tasks, stretch, or take a break from repetitive tasks Follow job rotation policies where applicable – effective job rotations work alternate muscle groups between successive job functions Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Repetition

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Static Loading: 

Static Loading: Avoid prolonged awkward postures Change the position of the work or your body position to get as close as possible to the work area If prolonged awkward postures are unavoidable, use a “supported” posture to compensate A supported posture uses part of your body to support the weight of another body segment that is in an awkward position Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Static Loading

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Contact Stress: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Contact Stress Select hand tools that conforms to the geometry of the hands Pistol grip & in-line tools: Recommended handle length: 5.0 inches Recommended handle diameter: 1.0 to 1.5 inches Pliers & crimping action tools: Recommended handle length: 4.0 inches (minimum) Recommended handle span: 2.5 inches Avoid handles that end in the palm of the hand

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Contact Stress: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Contact Stress Avoid pressure on knees: Avoid kneeling on hard surfaces for prolonged periods Use knee pads when kneeling tasks are unavoidable Avoid pressure on palms, wrists, and elbows: Use padding on hard or sharp surfaces Change your position to eliminate the stress

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Vibration & Torque: 

Ergonomic Tips to Minimize Vibration & Torque To lessen vibration: Pad tool handles with a soft compressible surface Use vibration damping (gel filled) gloves Select tools (hammers and chippers) with built in damping systems (springs/hydraulics) To lessen torque reaction: Use electric tools as opposed to air driven tools Use pulse tools or auto-shutoff tools


Summary Minimize ergonomic risk factors in your area Stretch throughout the shift especially before and after activities that require awkward positions or lifting Pay attention to your body and know your physical limitations Report ergonomics issues through appropriate channels. Ergonomic injuries are preventable, and you own your own safety

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