Effect of block weight on work demands and physical workload during masonry work

H.F. van der Molen, P.P.F.M. Kuijer, P.P. Hopmans, A.G. Houweling, G.S. Faber, M.J.M. Hoozemans, M.H. Frings-Dresen

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    Abstract

    The effect of block weight on work demands and physical workload was determined for masons who laid sandstone building blocks over the course of a full work day. Three groups of five sandstone block masons participated. Each group worked with a different block weight: 11 kg, 14 kg or 16 kg. Productivity and durations of tasks and activities were assessed through real time observations at the work site. Energetic workload was also assessed through monitoring the heart rate and oxygen consumption at the work site. Spinal load of the low back was estimated by calculating the cumulated elastic energy stored in the lumbar spine using durations of activities and previous data on corresponding compression forces. Block weight had no effect on productivity, duration or frequency of tasks and activities, energetic workload or cumulative spinal load. Working with any of the block weights exceeded exposure guidelines for work demands and physical workload. This implies that, regardless of block weight in the range of 11 to 16 kg, mechanical lifting equipment or devices to adjust work height should be implemented to substantially lower the risk of low back injuries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)355-366
    Number of pages12
    JournalErgonomics
    Volume51
    Issue number3
    Early online date24 Sep 2007
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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