According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in 2006, the total annual average number of workers employed in construction rose to an all-time high of nearly 7.7 million. This large workforce handled tasks that range from carrying heavy loads to performing repetitive tasks, placing them at risk of serious injury.
The physically demanding nature of this work helps to explain why injuries, such as strains, sprains, and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, are so prevalent and are the most common injury resulting in days away from work.
NIOSH has produced a booklet entitled “Simple Solutions Ergonomics for Construction Workers”, intended for construction workers, unions, supervisors, contractors, safety specialists, human resources managers-anyone with an interest in safe construction sites.
Some of the most common injuries in construction are the result of job demands that push the human body beyond its natural limits. Workers who must often lift, stoop, kneel, twist, grip, stretch, reach overhead, or work in other awkward positions to do a job are at risk of developing a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD). These can include back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, sprains, and strains.
To aid in the prevention of these injuries, this booklet suggests many simple and inexpensive ways to make construction tasks easier, more comfortable, and better suited to the needs of the human body.
NIOSH Director, Dr. John Howard, writes in the foreword that although the construction industry presents many workplace hazards, there are contractors in the U.S. who are successfully implementing safety and health programs to address these issues, including work-related musculoskeletal disorders.