Online Program

Working in hazardous trunk postures: Preliminary findings from patient care unit and construction worker pilot studies

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oscar Arias, MD, Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, PhD, DO, MPH, CPH, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Peter Umukoro, MD, Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Sonja Stoffel, PhD, Centre for Sport and Exercise Education, Camosun College, Victoria, BC, Canada
Jack T. Dennerlein, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH, Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Objective: While patient care unit (PCU) and construction workers are employed in physically demanding jobs that involve increased trunk flexion and can lead to musculoskeletal pain, few studies have directly measured trunk flexion during work hours. Therefore, we objectively assessed and compared trunk postures adopted at work by construction and PCU workers.

Methods: An inclinometer device (G-Link Data Loggers; Microstrain, Inc; Williston, VT, USA) mounted on the worker's back collected information on trunk flexion during an 8-12 hour single-day work shift from a convenience sample of PCU workers (n=48; from two acute care hospitals in 2011) and of construction workers (currently n=11; goal n= 60 by March 2013 from 5 commercial sites). Trunk flexion was categorized into 4 groups: (1) <-10°, (2) >-10°–20°, (3) >20°–45°, and (4) >45°. We calculated the time (duration) in each category and the frequency of bending per hour within categories.

Results: PCU workers had trunk flexion while at work on average of 3% at <-10˚, 74% at -10˚ to 20˚, 19% at >20˚ to 45˚ and 5% at >45˚ during a single shift. Preliminarily, for the 11 construction workers collected so far, trunk flexion while at work, averaged 6% at <-10˚, 80% at -10˚ to 20˚, 10% at >20˚ to 45˚ and 4% at >45˚ during a single shift.

Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that PCU and construction workers adopt hazardous trunk postures for long time periods while at work.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe how to measure trunk posture while at work in construction workers. Identify differences in trunk postures between two physically demanding jobs.

Keyword(s): Ergonomics, Occupational Disease

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in Ergonomics and Safety. My research focus is on injury prevention in physically demanding jobs.
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.