Ergonomics, Health and Safety Challenges in the Construction Industry and the Role of Industry 4.0
Authors: Simamnkele Ngxesha, Claire Deacon, John Smallwood
Abstract: Construction is a physically demanding process, and its activities entail exposure to a range of health and safety (H&S) and ergonomics hazards and risks. Inadequate H&S and ergonomics in turn negatively impact the health and wellbeing of workers and overall project and business performance. Given these realities and the persistence of H&S and ergonomics hazards and risks, a quantitative study was conducted to interrogate the related issues and evolve a response, including the potential of Industry 4.0 (4IR) technologies to contribute to an improvement in related performance. The study included members of the Association of Construction Health and Safety Management (ACHASM) who completed a self-administered questionnaire. The findings indicate: industry is still focused on the traditional parameters of cost, productivity, and time; workers are exposed to H&S and ergonomics hazards and risks; H&S- and ergonomics-related performance impact on overall project and business performance, and 4IR technologies have the potential to contribute to improving H&S- and ergonomics-related performance. Conclusions include: the construction process and its activities entail exposure to ergonomic hazards and risks; the construction process and its activities are physically demanding and militate against the health and wellbeing of workers; H&S plays a synergistic role in overall organisational and project performance, and there is a low level of awareness of the potential of 4IR technologies to improve H&S and ergonomics performance. Recommendations include: the holistic benefits arising from optimum H&S and ergonomics should be documented; designers should consider the impact of design, details, and specifications on construction H&S and ergonomics; contractors should interrogate the methods adopted to undertake construction activities to mitigate hazards and risks, and awareness with respect to the potential of 4IR technologies to contribute to improving H&S and ergonomics performance should be raised.
Keywords: Construction, Ergonomics, Health and Safety, Industry 4.0
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