טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentShahin Fadi
SubjectMitigating Safety and Health Hazards in Construction
Flooring Activities
DepartmentDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Supervisor Professor Yehiel Rosenfeld
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

The construction sector constitutes a great portion of the industrial employment and contributes greatly to the gross domestic product. However, it is also responsible for the highest rates of both morbidity and mortality among all industrial sectors. Consequently, it diminishes the quality of life and leads to negative economic impacts.

One of the most distinguishable features of the construction sector is its dynamic nature, which increases the uncertainty, thus decrease the ability to control risks. Moreover, many factors have a negative impact on the welfare of workers, such as weather condition, team rotations, and hazardous materials. Identifying such factors in advance is paramount to control risks, subsequently decreasing morbidity and mortality rates.

Over the years, safety professionals spent much effort to enhance safety on construction sites. Much of their focus, however, was on skeleton and exterior activities, for they present much higher mortality rates compared to interior trades. This study sheds some light on one of the interior trades, the tile-setting trade, which serves as a "representative" of interior trades.

The tile-setting trade has a significant impact on the human body, from musculoskeletal disorders to respiratory system diseases to a decrease in both the sight and the hearing senses. Such impacts decrease the quality of life and shorten the lifespan of tile-setters; they are killed gradually, rather than suddenly.

The main objective of this study was to identify the “root-causes” of safety and health hazards, which tile-setters encounter on the job site, capturing the extent of the safety and health hazards that tile-setters face, and suggest safety measures to eliminate/mitigate them. The tools of this research were questionnaires and interviews filled by 40 tile-setters, and interviews with safety professionals that we met during construction site visits. Additionally, we investigated three alternative flooring methods (the “Canadian method”, Versaflex? VXR method, and ArsRatio Casalgrande Padana method), and tested their viability by examining their advantages and disadvantages in comparison to the “Israeli” tile-setting method.

Among the findings, 95% of tile-setters suffer from low back disorders, 35% have at-least one herniated disc in the lumber back area (many have 2 or even 3 herniated discs) 92% suffer from knee disorders, 55% have visual disorders, 55% have respiratory system disorders, and 45% have hearing disorders; all these are considerably higher than in the general population. Moreover, a sound level measuring experiment conducted by the author showed that Tile-setters are exposed to very dangerous sound-levels (104dB<). Also, the alternative flooring methods have a great potential to decrease the safety and health hazards that tile-setters face. From the interviews with tile-setters and safety professionals, 16 safety measures (to be taken by tile-setters) were devised, such as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and manual handling awareness, using long-handled tools, and encouraging task rotations. This study can also serve as an example and prototype for analyzing other construction activities as well, in-order to make them safer and of higher quality at the same time.