Title page for ETD etd-08102007-094314

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Young, Deborah Elspeth
Author's Email Address dyoung@vt.edu
URN etd-08102007-094314
Title Evaluation of Dust Control Technologies for Drywall Finishing Operations: Industry Implementation Trends, Worker Perceptions, Effectiveness and Usability
Degree PhD
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Nussbaum, Maury A. Committee Chair
Kleiner, Brian M. Committee Member
Stratton, Richard K. Committee Member
Winchester, Woodrow W. III Committee Member
  • Health Belief Model
  • risk perception
  • construction industry
  • drywall
  • dust control
  • usability
  • occupational respiratory disease
  • silica
Date of Defense 2007-08-03
Availability unrestricted
Drywall finishing operations have been associated with worker exposure to dust that contains known particulate respiratory health hazards, such as silica, talc, and mica. Despite the existence of engineering, work-practice, and personal-protective-equipment (PPE) control technologies for the mitigation of this hazard, worker exposures persist in the drywall finishing industry. This research employed a macroergonomic framework to evaluate this problem and identify barriers to dust control technology adoption in the key subsystems: personnel, technological, and organizational.

In the first study, the organizational subsystem was evaluated through a telephone interview of 264 drywall finishing firm owners. This study found the most commonly used dust control technology was respiratory protection. Cost, usability, environmental factors, and productivity were barriers identified in preventing adoption of other technologies.

In the second study, of the technological subsystem, 16 participants performed simulated drywall finishing tasks with each of four methods, in a laboratory setting. Dust particles were monitored and compared among the technologies used. Participants performed usability evaluations of the four tools. The ventilated sander produced less respirable-size class dust than did the other three tools. The block sander produced more dust than the other three tools. Usability evaluations revealed that the block sander was easiest to learn, easiest to use, and perceived to be the best overall, while the wet method and pole sander were considered to have poor usability in terms of ease of use and productivity. Usability problems associated with perceived comfort and ease of use were identified for the ventilated sander, but it was tied for "overall best" with the block sander.

The third study, of drywall finishing worker perceptions, employed the Health Belief Model to assess barriers to technology adoption, risk, susceptibility, and benefits. Results showed that workers have a high perception of the risk associated with drywall dust, but a lower perception of individual susceptibility to disease as a result of occupational exposure. Barriers to the use of dust control technologies were identified as being associated with organizational and usability factors. Most participants indicated having access only to respiratory protection, among the available dust control methods.
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