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Construction workers and back injuries

Minnesota construction workers are at high risk for receiving a back injury while on the job. As reported by Fox News, work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the joints, muscles, tendons and nerves are higher among construction workers than in all other industries combined.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders make up approximately 25 percent of all nonfatal construction injuries, and back injuries account for over 40 percent of all WMSDs. In 2014, the average number of days away from work needed by a construction worker to recover from a WMSD rose to eight. Approximately $46 million was lost in wages that same year.

Workers most at risk

The Center for Construction Research and Training says that the effects of the continual lifting, carrying, bending, pulling and pushing that construction workers must do build up over time. They use a hypothetical bricklayer as an example. If he lifts an average of 200 38-pound blocks each day, he lifts the following tonnages:

  • 3.8 tons in one day
  • 19 tons in one week
  • 950 tons in one year

Multiply this by the number of years he works, and it is easy to see why older workers and those who have been on the job for more than five years are especially at risk for painful and possibly debilitating back injuries. Back injuries are the number one reason why middle-aged construction workers become disabled.

Preventing back injuries

Construction workers should let their tools do the work. When lifting or moving something that weighs over 50 pounds, they should use a dolly, forklift, hoist or cart. They also should avoid bending and/or twisting when lifting objects and should work with objects at waist level whenever possible. Finally, they should make sure that floors are dry and that there is no debris on floors and walkways to trip them. Slip and falls are one of the foremost causes of back injuries.

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