Strains and sprains, also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), continue to be a substantial problem in masonry. There are a growing number of ergonomic tools, equipment, and work practices available to reduce exposure to injury risks.
Providing workers, particularly apprentices, with information on how to identify potentially risky work practices and effectively communicate this information to those who can correct the situation is the focus of a new study. Occupational safety and health researchers Drs. Dan Anton (Eastern Washington University), Jennifer Hess (University of Oregon), Laurel Kincl (Oregon State University), and Douglas Weeks are collaborating with the Masonry r2p Partnership on a national project called Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE). Funding for the project comes from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.
As a first step, the research team conducted a confidential survey of apprentices at 12 training centers across the US to assess their access to and use of electronic devices. The survey results are being used by the researchers to help shape the design of the interactive, internet-based training modules, related materials for apprenticeship trainers to use in the classroom, and text messaging reminders for apprentices that will complement the apprenticeship training program. The training module and related materials will be used to teach masonry apprentices about ergonomics and how to use their ‘safety voice’ to speak up at work.