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Ergonomic Back Injury Risk Factors in Construction Glass and Glazing Work

Zahra Jabbarani Torghabeh, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The focus of this study was on systematically evaluating glass and glazing trade to identify problems leading to the higher incidence rate of work-related low back injury and gathering information to improve the workers' work condition in this construction subsector. In 2010, glass and glazing contractors reported the highest rate of back injuries, 97.8 per 10,000 full-time employees. Despite the high rate of injuries among Construction Glass and Glazing (CGG) workers, this trade's ergonomic risks have not been adequately investigated. Site observations and interviews with project managers/supervisors, and non-supervisory workers provided invaluable information in developing a job description for CGG trade. Manual material handling was reported the hardest job task, which contributed to musculoskeletal disorders such as back and shoulder injuries in glazing jobs. Powered mechanical handling, additional worker assistance, and safe lifting techniques were some of the interviews-reported recommendations that can improve safety at glazing work. Posture, Activity, Tools, and Handling (PATH) observational method indicated that CGG workers spent a large proportion of time working on boom lifts (31.48 %). Glass/panel installation was determined as the major CGG task and Manual Material Handling (MMH) was recognized as the most frequent activity for this trade, which carry/hold ranked number one activity among MMH activities. A team of two individuals was the most preferable combination that accounted for 55.75% of the team MMH observations. For a large proportion of time (47.31%) CGG workers had some weights in their hands including tools/powered equipment. CGG workers spent most of their time in awkward postures such as non-neutral trunk postures (27.17%) and working above shoulder height (21%). Regarding (Rapid Entire Body Assessment) REBA scores, frame installation and glass/panel installation scores ranged between 4 and 9 corresponding to a medium and high WRMSD risk level. MMH activity in frame installation task obtained the highest REBA score (8.82) with the high level of risk among all CGG activities. The results of this study provided a baseline database for future evaluations of ergonomic interventions in CGG hazardous activities.

Subject Area

Engineering|Public health|Physiology

Recommended Citation

Jabbarani Torghabeh, Zahra, "Ergonomic Back Injury Risk Factors in Construction Glass and Glazing Work" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13862118.