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RR1152 - An ergonomics study of the minimum space requirement for removal of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) ceiling tiles

Working in confined spaces with height restrictions can introduce a risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders such as pain and disorders of the back and neck. This report describes research to estimate the acceptable minimum workspace height for the removal of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) tiles from suspended ceilings using a scaffolding platform installed below the ceiling. HSE regulatory inspectors had inconsistent information from industry stakeholders about the basis of the heights in use. Furthermore, there is little relevant information in the scientific literature. A laboratory-based study, with non-industry volunteers, examined postural and other ergonomic effects for nine workplace heights for the tasks typical of AIB removal.

This laboratory study found an acceptable range of workplace heights of 114 cm to 134 cm for a representative population of workers. This is equivalent to the minimum height being such that overhead tasks can be done either: for taller workers, from kneeling with the upper body rested on the heels and the torso upright; or for shorter workers, from kneeling upright. Because the study was not done under actual AIB removal conditions in industry, the findings are not definitive. However, they may be useful for duty holders as part of the information they use to determine appropriate work practices.

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Updated 2020-01-10