270582 Creating the Climate for Ergonomic Changes in Construction

Monday, October 29, 2012

Laura Boatman, BA , State Buidling & Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO), Sacramento, CA
Debra Chaplan, BA , State Building & Construction Trades Council of California (AFL-CIO), Sacramento, CA
Suzanne Teran, MPH , Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Laura Welch, MD , Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Background and Objectives: Construction workers have high rates of WMSDs, yet we hear from all levels of the industry that construction work is just hard and there is simply no way to avoid wear and tear on workers' bodies. This study was designed to find out the current attitudes and perceptions that contractors, unions and workers have about ergonomics and what its status is in practice and in their safety mindset. Methods: We conducted 50 individual key informant interviews, taking an average of 45 minutes, with contractor representatives and union staff and 4 focus groups with workers. Each group was asked questions addressing understanding about and attitudes toward ergonomics, obstacles to addressing WMSD hazards, and ways to overcome those obstacles.

Results and Discussion: Both contractor and union reps indicated high levels of concern about WMSDs. Workers cared deeply about the impact WMSDs have on their lives and their ability to continue working. All three study groups shared the belief that construction today is driven by production; neither workers nor the contractors were interested in using new tools and techniques that may hamper their productivity. Fear of losing their job motivated workers to keep quiet and work through symptoms; the current economy was seen as exacerbating this problem. Respondents also reported limited availability and accessibility of tested and effective tools, equipment and processes. We will describe additional results and an overall synthesis that can inform a social marketing campaign.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Attendees will be able to identify key factors that can inform a social marketing campaign to reduce MSDs among construction workers. They will be encouraged to formulate additional questions.

Keywords: Injury Prevention, Social Marketing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinate ergonomics programs for CPWR - the Center for Construction Research and Training. I have conducted research on MSDs among construction workers for 10 years and published that research in peer-reviewed journals. I also work on a range of research to practice initiatives at CPWR, and will be responsible for implementation of the recommendations of this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.