Construction workers in California face an endless list of safety hazards each day. The risks include dangerous tools, elevated work levels and more. Along with the known dangers come repetitive stress injuries that could cause long-term, or even permanent, musculoskeletal damage. Ergonomics are as important on construction sites as in office environments.
Examples of causes of repetitive stress injuries
- Tool choices: Choose power tools that are not too heavy, well balanced and produce minimum vibrations.
- Tool belt safety: A tool belt should only be used if there is no other option and it must be removed during breaks.
- Balanced tool belt: An unbalanced tool belt with a heavier load on one side could cause back alignment problems.
- Unbalanced tool belt hazard: Load tools evenly throughout the tool belt to avoid overexerted muscles on one side of the body.
- Avoid long periods bent at the waist: Excessive bending at the waist causes back muscle stress.
- Knee protection: Frequent squatting to lift ground-level objects could cause knee damage.
- Raise ground level work: If possible, work on a bench or use sawhorses to raise the work area.
- Avoid waist twisting: Turn the entire body instead of twisting the lower back while shoveling or lifting.
- Practice safe lifting: Do not hesitate to ask for help to lift heavy objects, and use the leg muscles instead of the back muscles.
- Overhead work is dangerous: Arching the back for overhead lifting damages spinal joints and causes shoulder and neck strain.
- Choose to push instead of pulling: Pulling requires unnatural curving of the body while pushing uses the back’s natural curves.
Despite taking these precautions, neglected ergonomics on construction sites could still cause long-term bodily damage. Fortunately, the California workers’ compensation system covers repetitive stress injuries. An approved benefits claim will cover medical expenses and lost wages.