AbstractMasons are aided by ergonomic inventions such as tools, processes, and equipment, yet they are still subjected to performing physically demanding and hazardous tasks at the worksite. Experienced masons have a high level of job satisfaction; however, they also experience a high rate of attrition during their training phase and do not, on average, experience as long of a working life as nonconstruction workers. By analyzing expert masons’ performance, in terms of body kinematics and load levels, during various masonry activities, guidelines for the training of a safer and more productive generation of masons can be formulated. This study investigated expert masons’ performance and ergonomic characteristics during seven common masonry activities. Specifically, eight expert masons with over 20 years of experience laid out 16.6 kg concrete masonry units (CMUs) to construct a standard wall, a reinforced wall, a wall in constraint space (under ceiling), and the first course. They also utilized individual and collaborative lifts to build a five-course wall using 23 kg CMUs and collaborative lifts to build the same configuration using 35.2 kg CMUs. Inertial motion capture systems captured their motion, and a biomechanical analysis determined the load experienced by major body joints in each activity. The present study contributes to the body of knowledge by providing insights into expert masons’ distinctive ergonomic characteristics in seven common masonry activities. Our findings open the door to providing apprentices with improved training based on those characteristics. We quantified the impact of optimized work configurations (working height for picking up and laying down material at about waist level) on minimizing musculoskeletal risks. A more significant impact on masons’ safety, health, and productivity is expected by applying expert masons’ biomechanical strategies in designing and/or redesigning work systems for a safer generation of masons.

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