Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of raised bricklaying on physical workload, reported musculoskeletal disorders, sickness absence, and job satisfaction.
Methods: A controlled intervention study with a follow-up period of 10 months was performed among 202 bricklayers from 25 construction companies.
Results: The introduction of devices for raised bricklaying decreased the physical load on the lower back and, to a less extent, on the shoulders and upper extremities. Although raised bricklaying had no effect on the number of lifts, decreases in trunk bending lowered the biomechanical moment. The results showed no decrease in reported musculoskeletal symptoms as a result of the adoption of raised bricklaying. Irrespective of the reason(s), the percentage of bricklayers in the intervention group reporting sickness absence was significantly lower than the same percentage in the control group. The results also showed that, in general, the bricklayers in this study were very satisfied with the use of devices for raised bricklaying.
Conclusions: Controlled intervention studies on ergonomic improvements are rare. This study shows that the introduction of an ergonomic improvement in the construction industry may reduce physical load and the incidence of sickness absence.