UC Ergonomics/Safe Pavement Breakers Presentation

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William Schriver , Richard L. Tucker
University of California, Berkeley , University of California, Los Angeles

Summary Statement

Presentation on research conducted on the use of jackhammers in construction and the hazards.

jackhammer use truck jackhammer


  • In construction…
    • 5 out of every 100 workers injured
    • >50% of injuries = Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
  • Jackhammering causes back and shoulder MSDs
  • Stuck jackhammer = increased strain
  • Looking for a solution to help prevent MSDs

jackhammer use

  • Jackhammer Lift Assist
  • Pneumatically powered “foot” pushes jackhammer out of the ground
  • Reduces effort of lifting/repositioning jackhammer
  • Decreases back and shoulder strain

jackhammer use

  • Lift Assist available to workers at PG&E
  • Workers prefer not to use device

pacifc fas and electric company


  • Find out why many workers prefer traditional method of jackhammering

jackhammer cartoon


  • Site visits at PG&E (2)
  • Worker interviews (4)
  • Worker Questionnaires (4)
  • Interviews with Ergonomist and Construction experts
  • Interview with PG&E union rep (IBEW 1245)
  • Visited Northern California Laborer’s Training Center in San Ramon


hardhatWhat we learned


  • Helpful on flat, open ground
  • Reduces back and shoulder strain
  • Well accepted once workers give it a try


  • Not appropriate for all situations (hills, limited space)
  • Decreases accuracy of work
  • Large reach for activation trigger Adds 10lbs weight



It’s a good idea, but it needs some work

-PG&E construction worker


  • Decrease activation trigger reach
  • Decrease weight of device
  • Modify foot such that it conforms to sloped surfaces

jackhammer use

  • Larger storage compartment for device
  • Put jackhammer away as a team when possible
  • Conduct periodic safety training for individual work crews on jackhammer risks and precautions.
  • Incorporate Lift Assist into initial jackhammer trainings

jackhammer use

jackhammer use


  • Project time limitation
  • Small Sample Size
  • Not much literature specific to Jackhammer MSDs
  • Jackhammer injuries not limited to MSDs



  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Road Traffic
  • Silica Dust
noise traffic


  • Cooperative PG&E liaisons and crews
  • Interviews with ergonomics and construction experts
  • Sufficient videotape footage
  • Understanding additional construction work hazards that we were not previously aware of.


UC Ergonomics Lab

  • Maggie Robbins
  • Dr. David Rempel
  • Betsy Llosa
  • Staff

CA. Dept. of Public Health

  • Dr. Bob Harrison
  • David Harrington
  • Staff

Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics

Occupational Health Internship Program

  • Diane Bush
  • Sarah Jacobs


  • Garret Chang
  • Taisir Shurasa
  • Work Crews

Northern CA. Laborer’s Training Center

  • Ollie Hurl
  • Jerome Williams