Though ergonomic injuries are the most common on construction worksites and result in the greatest number of lost workdays, companies often focus little attention on their elimination. A recent investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, however, again affirms the potential to curtail this loss.

The investigation reports on the results of construction companies that secured state SafetyGRANT$ to install ergonomic interventions at jobsites. Thirty construction areas reported baseline and follow-up data, and the improvements were impressive.

The cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) rate dropped from 4.1 per 200,000 hours to 2.8, a 32 percent improvement. CTDs include back injuries, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries that result from cumulative wear and tear.

Lost workdays due to CTDs dropped from 169 per 200,000 hours to 30.8, a reduction of 82 percent.

The average risk factor score (a relative measure of the risk of a CTD) for 58 specific construction tasks dropped from 35.9 to 22.3, a 38 percent improvement.

A full report, Ergonomics Best Practices for the Construction Industry, is available from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The report documents injury reductions that resulted from the use of adjustable scaffolding, rough terrain forklifts, powered dollies, skid steerers and laser-guided screeds. It also publishes case studies for three Ohio companies that used SafetyGRANT$ to purchase these ergonomic aids.

Other information on cost-effective ergonomic interventions in construction is available from the LHSFNA at Ergonomics and Construction.

[Steve Clark]