The Manufacturers Role in Ergonomics and Worker Health in 2021 | LATICRETE Conversations
Blog written by Arthur Mintie, Vice President Customer Experience, LATICRETE
Worker health and safety is and should be a top priority in the construction industry. It is the contractors and installers that work with the products every day, making the innovation of new products that are better for their health and safety critically important. Demand for building solutions that are safe and clean for the work environment and account for installer ergonomic effects is higher than ever before. Combine these trends with a post-COVID rebounding economy and we have a roadmap for how to navigate 2021 and the specific opportunities it will present.
A Safe and Clean Work Environment
For manufacturers, making installations easier on the installer is a core focus of new product design and innovation. For LATICRETE, this means evaluating our solutions not just for their performance on the project outcome, but for how they impact the health and safety of the workers who install our products every day. We’ve progressively innovated products that contain no respirable crystalline silica levels that exceed the OSHA action level.* Respirable silica is often present in jobsites and is known to be harmful when inhaled.
Additionally, LATICRETE is committed to offering solutions that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are carbon-containing substances that become vapors or gases and can be harmful to inhale in unhealthy amounts. Because many construction materials already contain VOCs, such as paints, coatings and adhesives, providing options that are low-VOC is a serious focus for LATICRETE. Offering them will help to mitigate the overall effects of VOCs and provide a cleaner environment for workers, residents and others who are near the worksite.
Ergonomics and Lightweight Innovations
Ergonomics is another topic of consideration and one that LATICRETE has taken a serious interest in, especially as it involves the weight of our products. Ergonomics deals with the study of people in their working environment. And, when it comes to building professionals and construction crews, it especially has to do with the physical strain their bodies go through on a daily basis, putting them at greater risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and are at greater risk of occurring with actions such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repeatedly, all of which are commonplace in this industry. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their workers.
Lighter weight products are no longer considered simply ‘nice to have’; they are in demand because they are less of a hazard for workers and decrease the weight of tile installation systems that are typically quite heavy. We’re seeing an overall shift in the industry for lightweight alternatives for adhesives, shower backer board materials, shower installation systems and many other product categories. Increasingly, manufacturers like LATICRETE are providing lightweight solutions that don’t compromise the performance of well-known installation materials. This can be beneficial for the installer and also have an impact on the overall effectiveness of the worksite, speeding up installation times and alleviating labor.
LATICRETE is driven to provide education and safer alternatives to traditional construction methods. That's why in early 2020 we developed ProjectSafety™, a company-wide initiative to bring you health and safety information, as well as safer products. Our role as a manufacturer is to not only make quality products that are healthier to work with, but to also provide access to safety education and alternative installation techniques to help lower the staggering injury and ailment statistics associated within our industry.
- SPECTRALOCK® 1 is the industry’s first stain-proof, pre-mixed grout with epoxy performance. This product meets many of the performance characteristics** for epoxy grout and offers superior compression strength at 3,500 psi, with an extremely fast curing rate so that customers can complete durable projects in less time than ever before. It’s safe to use with low-VOC components, has low odor and contains no epoxy resins.
- 3701 Lite Mortar and 3701 Lite Mortar R (Rapid) mortar fills an important gap, becoming the first lightweight, rapid mortar in the industry. Both mortars offer high performance characteristics and durability. 3701 Lite Mortar and 3701 Lite Mortar R have carefully selected polymers, Portland cement and lightweight aggregates. They contain no respirable crystalline silica levels that exceed the OSHA action level.* Additionally, the formula does not require the use of a latex admixture, only water and they have excellent performance in vertical and overhead applications such as concrete repairs or wall renders.
- LATICRETE® SELECT-BOND™ is an industry-first tile and stone adhesive system that can reduce a distributor’s adhesives inventory pallet space by 65% and helps ensure an installer always has the right adhesive for the job. It is a green and low-VOC installation system that helps to lower shipping and inventory costs (therefore gaining efficiencies in the supply chain) by using one base adhesive and using smaller ‘kits’ to tailor the characteristics of the adhesive mortar. The polymer modified adhesive can be used for both thin bed and Large Heavy Tile applications. To increase the versatility and enhance the performance of LATICRETE SELECT-BOND, users can add one of these optional adhesive system kits: non-sag, rapid cure or high performance to meet ANSI A118.15 requirements.
Through the next year and many years to come, LATICRETE is focused on innovating solutions that contribute to better worker health and safety while offering lightweight options that don’t compromise on performance.
*OSHA action level set forth in OSHA's Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) standard for construction, 29 CFR 1926.1153, as certified by an independent laboratory to be below the OSHA action level for respirable crystalline silica - see www.laticrete.com/silica
**Meets or exceeds ANSI A118.3 specific test designation 5.6