n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Construction ergonomics : an Indian and South African comparison

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



Construction is by its very nature a problem in ergonomics requiring work above head height and below waist level. Construction materials are necessarily heavy, and by virtue of shape and / or form, may not engender lifting and handling. Generally, construction in India and South Africa is similar, however, construction in India tends to be more labour intensive and less mechanised than in South Africa. Furthermore, a range of design, procurement and construction interventions impact on ergonomics, which reflects the need for multi-stakeholder contributions thereto, applies to both countries.

This paper reports on findings emanating from comparative surveys conducted among delegates attending seminars in India and South Africa. From a comparative perspective, ergonomic problems are encountered less frequently in India, and the impact of the various stages of a project on construction ergonomics, the extent to which aspects negatively affect construction ergonomics, and the extent to which aspects could contribute to an improvement in construction ergonomics, are rated higher in South Africa than in India.
Salient findings include: bending and twisting, and repetitive movements predominate among ergonomic concerns encountered; structural steel structures, reinforced concrete structures, and roof predominate in terms of the impact of stages of projects on ergonomics; degree of contractor awareness relative to ergonomics, standard of site housekeeping, and contractor planning predominate in terms of the extent to which aspects negatively affect ergonomically safe working procedures, and awareness and safe working procedures predominate in terms of the extent aspects could contribute to an improvement in ergonomics. Despite the differences in mean scores, ergonomics is an issue, and ergonomics related interventions are required in both India and South Africa.
Recommendations include: the inclusion of construction ergonomics in all tertiary built environment education; the consideration of, and reference to, construction ergonomics during all phases of projects; a multi-stakeholder approach to construction ergonomics, and reengineering of the construction process. Furthermore, there is a greater need for increased awareness of construction ergonomics in the Indian built environment.

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