The efficacy of ergonomics measures to reduce physical work demands in a real working situation is often assumed, but seldom studied. In this study, the effect of adjusting working height and mechanization of transport on physical work demands and local discomfort of bricklayers' work was evaluated during a field experiment in the construction industry. In a within-subjects controlled experiment, 10 bricklayers and 10 bricklayers' assistants worked in two different conditions. Working height of bricks and mortar, and transport of materials were manipulated. The physical work demands were assessed through real time observations at the work site. Local discomfort of the lower back and of the shoulder region was measured by means of a visual analogue scale. Working with a scaffolding console to adjust the working height of the storage of materials resulted in a significant reduction of the frequency and duration of trunk flexion (> 60 degrees) by 79% and 52% respectively, compared with bricks set out on the ground floor. Mechanization of transport of materials resulted in a significant reduction of the frequency and duration of trunk flexion (> 60 degrees) by 94% and 92% respectively, compared with the condition of manual handling. The frequency of handling objects (> 4 kg) reduced significantly by 86%. Local discomfort of the lower back was significantly less in the ergonomic conditions, while no significant difference was found for local discomfort of the shoulder between both conditions in bricklayers' assistants.