Analysis and assessment of loads and strains during construction work as determinants of typical occupational back complaints in concrete workers and plasterers

Project No. BGBA #004


completed 06/1997


Construction work stands out typically as an ergonomically defined activity with a high proportion of static and dynamic muscle activity. Forced positions, stereotypical sequences of movement and strains caused by the working environment lead to frequent complaints of back problems and corresponding clinical findings. Scientific tests have revealed that plasterers and concrete workers are under particular strain. Goal: analysis and assessment of relevant loads and strains in activities performed by concrete workers and plasterers; examination of possible connections between work loads/strains and complaints (in particular back complaints); disclosure of design deficits in respect of back strain


First phase: field study with approximately 150 plasterers and 250 concrete workers in order to reveal areas of load build up with the help of occupational scientific methods (AET, MAS, OWAS, KhS); obtaining occupational medical and orthopaedic case histories and examination findings on site or in occupational medical centres; 2nd phase: exemplary testing of the physical strains derived from the field study by means of supplementary laboratory tests, in particular biomechanical analysis with the help of the HEINER human model.


More than 2/3 of those examined cited back and joint complaints; use of pain killers and physiotherapy were noticeably frequent. A large number of complaints in the lumbar vertebral column region came from employees with highly repetitive tasks e.g. steel fixing - and heavy loads - e.g. formwork.


Wimmel u.a.: Rückenbelastung bei Tätigkeiten des Betonbauers. Zeitschrift Arbeits-, Sozial-, Umweltmedizin 33 (1998) Nr. 3, S. 87-97

Last Update:

15 Aug 2000


Financed by:
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Bau-Berufsgenossenschaften
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitswissenschaften der Technischen Hochschule Darmstadt
  • Bau-Berufsgenossenschaft Wuppertal
  • Bau-Berufsgenossenschaft Frankfurt

construction industry

Type of hazard:

handling of loads


Heben und Tragen von Lasten, Gefährdungsbeurteilung, Gestaltung von Anlagen und Verfahren

Description, key words:

Structuring of work to reduce strain on the spine, concrete worker and plasterer