Gait Adaptations: Role of Visual Information and Repeated Exposures in Risk Assessment of Tripping for Construction Workers

Research Trainee: Christopher Rhea, PhD Student, Health and Physiology, Purdue University

Faculty Researcher: Shirley Rietdyk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University

Slips, trips, and falls are a major contributor to injuries in the construction industry. While recent research has found that industry workers adequately perceive the risk of slipping on a surface, the risk of tripping over obstacles has not been investigated. Toe clearance, a quantity of the risk of tripping, increases from level walking to stepping over obstacles and further increases with visual interference. Construction workers navigate a cluttered environment where obstacles are frequently in their walking path. In addition, construction workers regularly carry objects that obstruct their view of the ground and a potential obstacle. This project will investigate if construction workers can accurately perceive various obstacle heights and will assess the risk of tripping based on perception-action theory. Also, this project will attempt to identify if construction workers have developed different obstacle crossing strategies compared to non-construction workers. This project addresses the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Priority Research Areas: Traumatic Injuries and Risk Assessment Methods. Research outcomes will potentially identify strategies for avoiding tripping hazards thus reducing injuries and fatalities from such hazards in the construction industry. Results from this pilot research will enable future project proposals that will identify risk factors and prevention strategies for falling from tripping in cluttered construction environments.


Research trainee’s current position:
Christopher Rhea completed his PhD in 2008 and is currently an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.