Ergonomic Risk Factors - A Study Of Heavy Earthmoving Machinery Operators
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Ergonomic Risk Factors - A Study Of Heavy Earthmoving Machinery Operators

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      ALTHOUGH MANY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN an association between operating heavy construction equipment and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), little research has been performed that systematically characterizes the exposure of operating engineers to ergonomic hazards. This study evaluated: 1) vibration at the seat/operator interface;2) transmissibility of vibration in the Z-axis; 3) psychophysical ratings of vibration level and vibration discomfort; and 4) postural requirements of the job. Results indicate that the digging operation had higher levels of total weighted acceleration than high- or low-idling conditions. Transmissibility data showed that the seat amplified vibration, particularly in the lower frequencies. Seats demonstrated that they may not be sufficient in protecting operators from long-term effects of vibration exposure. High positive correlation was found among subjective ratings (vibration discomfort and vibration level), but moderate positive correlation was found between subjective ratings and quantitative vibration levels. Postural evaluations revealed that the operators were required to assume awkward postures of the neck, shoulder and trunk while performing their jobs. Work-related injuries and illnesses pose a continuing threat to the health and well-being of American workers. The construction industry has been historically recognized as having higher rates of fatality, injury and illness than other industries (McVittie285+; BLS). In 1994, an estimated 218,800 lost-work-day injuries were reported in the construction industry (BLS). Construction also had the second-highest incidence rate for sprains and strains. Although the industry has made progress since then, injuries and illnesses, including MSDs, continue to because for concern.
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