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Work. 2012;43(4):417-25. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1459.

Assessing the ergonomic hazards for pile drivers.

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Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA.



The study was conducted to assess the physical/ergonomic exposures that may lead to musculoskeletal injuries of Pile Drivers.


Pile Drivers in the Greater Boston area.


A hierarchical taxonomy for pile driving work was developed with tasks and activities defined within each of seven main pile driving operations. Exposures were characterized for the pile driving work with the PATH (Posture, Activity, Tools, and Handling) method. Data on working posture were collected for three main body parts: legs, arm and trunk.


A total of 8,301 observations were made on 29 Pile Drivers, on a total of 6 work sites. The lagging operation had the highest percentage of observations with non-neutral trunk (46.8%), and leg (41.0%) postures, as well as one of the lowest percentages for working on stable ground (9.0%) as observed during the lagging operation. The bracing operation had the lowest percentage for working on stable ground (0.3%). The slurry wall operation also had a low percentage of work on stable ground (6.0%). Compared to the awkward trunk and leg postures, the arm postures were less frequently observed as being awkward or non-neutral.


The results indicate of significant exposures that could lead to musculoskeletal injuries of the back and legs for the Pile Drivers. The unstable ground conditions seemed to be one of the main concerns for this job.

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