The overwhelming majority of construction workers are under medium to high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Awkward postures, prolonged duration and other factors (e.g., poor coupling, excessive load, repeated actions under poor supervision) contribute to the risk levels.

This is the conclusion of Anagha. R and Annie Sonia Xavier from the Toc H Institute of Science and Technology (India), who assessed the level of ergonomics in various tasks in the construction industry. Their research results have been published in the article Working posture analysis of construction workers using ergonomics in the journal Sustainability, Agri, Food and Environmental Research.

Having examined the situation, researchers offer several suggestions on how to mitigate these risks. Among the recommendations:

Reinforcement workers:

  • Avoiding static bending posture by providing support mechanisms to reduce the stress in legs and knees.
  • Ensuring appropriate working posture supervision by the safety officer/ engineer.

Plastering workers:

  • Using stable elevated platforms for overhead plastering to reduce the strain in neck, shoulders and trunk areas.
  • In case of plastering at lower levels, ensuring appropriate seating to avoid strain
    on knee and lower limbs.
  • Using proper equipment like guniting tools when plastering over a larger area.

Shuttering workers:

  • Ensuring that work is done at appropriate heights to reduce strain and avoid cases of bend trunk and insufficient support.
  • Ensuring the usage of ladders in shuttering activities to help the worker to work at an eye-level.

Concrete block workers:

  • Controlling working posture to avoid frequent bending and stretching to reach materials and tools
  • Using elevated platforms for storage of concrete blocks, mortar and equipment to keep them in immediate reach and avoid unnecessary movements.

Manual material handling workers:

  • Training workers in appropriate methods of lifting and handling the construction materials.
  • Promoting the adoption of postures that distribute the weight of the construction material equally to the body.
  • Avoiding lifting/carrying materials using one side of the body.
  • Using equipment (e.g. trolleys) to transport and carry construction material.

For more details about the research, conclusions, and recommendations, you can read the article in open access to learn more: