A participatory ergonomics intervention to reduce risk factors for low-back disorders in concrete laborers

Appl Ergon. 2004 Sep;35(5):427-41. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2004.04.003.


Construction laborers rank high among occupational groups with work-related musculoskeletal injuries involving time way from work. The goals of this project were to: (1) introduce an ergonomic innovation to decrease the risk of low-back disorder (LBD) group membership, (2) quantitatively assess exposure, and (3) apply a participatory intervention approach in construction. Laborers manually moving a hose delivering concrete to a placement site were evaluated. The hypothesis tested was that skid plates would prevent hose joints from catching on rebar matting, and the hose would slide more easily. This would decrease the need for repetitive bending and use of excessive force. Four laborers were evaluated wearing the Lumbar Motion Monitor (LMM), a tri-axial electrogoniometer that records position, velocity and acceleration. Workers were measured during three comparable concrete pours. Worker perceptions of the innovation utility and exertion were surveyed. During initial use of skid plates, flexion increased significantly (p < 0.001) while velocity, acceleration and moments did not change. After implementing a worker modification, low back velocity, acceleration and moments were significantly reduced (p < 0.05). Reductions in these factors have been associated with decreased risk of belonging to an occupational group with LBDs. Use of secured skid plates during horizontal concrete hose movement may in part decrease the risk of LBD group membership among concrete laborers. Crew participation resulted in skid plates being a more effective intervention. The LMM is a promising tool for quantitative assessment in construction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Construction Materials*
  • Ergonomics / instrumentation*
  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors