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Hazard Analysis — Stooped postures
Workers who lay or set brick, block, or stone may face hazards from stooped postures.
Risk Description:Prolonged bending of the back during the process of laying or setting brick, block, stone, tile or marble can cause injuries to muscles, nerves, discs and ligaments of the low back. The cumulative effects of stooped postures may lead to LBP or low back disorders, such as strains of the muscles, sprains of the ligaments surrounding the spine, or intervertebral disc problems.
Low back pain (LBP) is among the most common health complaint in working-aged populations worldwide. In the U.S., 70%-80% of adults will experience a significant episode of LBP at least once in their lives. Low back disorders are conditions associated with lifting and other forceful movements of the back. Episodes of LBP are characterized by varying levels of pain and symptoms in the low back (lumbar spine). Low back disorders can even cause leg pain at times.
- Work-related lifting and forceful movements
- Whole body vibration
- Awkward postures (bending and twisting)
- Heavy physical work
To assess exposure to stooped postures, determine how many hours per day the worker spends in with their back bent forward >30°, bent forward >45°, or twisted >30°. Also, visit Thomas Bernard's website for a host of practical ergonomic tools.
To assess the exposure to stooped postures, it is necessary to observe a worker drilling, grinding and sawing materials. Look for:
- Time spent with the back bent forward more than 30°
- Excessive trunk twisting more than 30°
The risk of injury increases with more time spent in a bent forward posture and a greater degree of forward bending. General guidelines include:
- Working with the back bent forward >30° for more than 2 hours a day is a moderate risk
- Working with the back bent forward >30° for more than 4 hours a day is a significant risk
- Working with the back bent forward >45° for more than 2 hours a day is a significant risk
Quantitative methods of measuring back posture are available (e.g. Lumbar Motion Monitor) but require technical expertise.Thomas Bernard's website has a host of practical ergonomics tools, including the Washington Department of Labor and Industries Checklist and the Rodgers Muscle Fatigue Assessment.
Thomas Bernard's website has a host of practical ergonomics tools, including three Microsoft Excel® based analysis tools based on the Liberty Mutual Manual Material Handling Tables.
Regulations & Standards:
Forceful and repetitive hand and wrist activities, and extreme hand/wrist postures, may cause hand, wrist, and elbow musculoskeletal disorders, including tendonitis. Numerous publications based on field studies among industrial workers in manufacturing and meatpacking have confirmed these risks. A combination of risk factors, such as forceful and repetitive hand activities, is an even greater risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders.
Many construction workers frequently use forceful, repetitive, and extreme hand/wrist postures during the normal course of their work. In 2002, 24.4% of lost work days in the construction industry were due to upper extremity injuries or illnesses. Epidemiologic studies also show that hand and wrist injury prevalence among construction workers is high. In 1996, the University of Iowa surveyed 2,929 workers representing 13 different construction trades. The investigators found that 43% of workers experienced hand and wrist pain, and 25% experienced elbow pain, in the previous 12 months.
Federal OSHA Standards are enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor in 26 states. There are currently 22 states and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and state and local government employees) and 5 - Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands - which cover public employees only. If you are working in one of those states or jurisdictions you should ensure that you are complying with their requirements.
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