Exploring physical exposures and identifying high-risk work tasks within the floor layer trade

Appl Ergon. 2014 Jul;45(4):857-64. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.11.002. Epub 2013 Nov 23.


Introduction: Floor layers have high rates of musculoskeletal disorders yet few studies have examined their work exposures. This study used observational methods to describe physical exposures within floor laying tasks.

Methods: We analyzed 45 videos from 32 floor layers using Multimedia-Video Task Analysis software to determine the time in task, forces, postures, and repetitive hand movements for installation of four common flooring materials. We used the WISHA checklists to define exposure thresholds.

Results: Most workers (91%) met the caution threshold for one or more exposures. Workers showed high exposures in multiple body parts with variability in exposures across tasks and for different materials. Prolonged exposures were seen for kneeling, poor neck and low back postures, and intermittent but frequent hand grip forces.

Conclusions: Floor layers experience prolonged awkward postures and high force physical exposures in multiple body parts, which probably contribute to their high rates of musculoskeletal disorders.

Keywords: Construction trades; Musculoskeletal disorders; Observational assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Construction Industry*
  • Female
  • Floors and Floorcoverings*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Posture / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology
  • Young Adult