The construction industry is in the top three occupations for work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
What is a work-related musculoskeletal disorder?
A musculoskeletal disorder is a broad term used to describe a disorder within the body’s musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system consists of the body’s bone, ligaments, tendons, nerves and muscles.
Musculoskeletal disorders can cause pain, discomfort, numbness or tingling. If the disorder is within the bone, it may be bruised, have a microfracture, crack or splinter.
A work-related musculoskeletal disorder (or WRMSD) describes an injury or disorder within the bodies musculoskeletal system that has been caused, or exacerbated, by work.
Read more about WRMSD’s here.
Risk factors for MSD’s within the construction industry:
- Working with an undesirable force of movement.
- Duration – working on one task for longer than the body can handle.
- Repetition – doing a movement that hurts the body, repetitively.
- Taking a static or awkward posture while working. Sometimes workers take a poor posture because they are already in pain and trying to work in a way that doesn’t worsen it.
Common MSD’s in construction work include:
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Cumulative trauma disorders (CTD)
- Occupational overuse syndromes (OOS)
Why are MSD’s so common in construction workers?
Construction workers have to use hand and power tools which put to work multiple regions of the body. They have to constantly move, work in awkward positions and use repetitive, forceful movements in the back, upper and lower body.
Construction workers often have little autonomy over how they complete their work. They may have little to no control over which tasks to perform and when. This may be due to their environment, such as trying to complete a task before the weather conditions change. It could be because they are trying to complete a task before, or while a delivery is being made, and they often have to comply with strict deadlines. If a project is not completed on time, it can have financial consequences for the firm.
This high-pressure environment which gives workers little option about what they feel they can work on at any given time, puts the worker at risk of both acute injuries (acute pain is immediate and usually results from trauma or injury, such as a broken leg which heals over time), or a chronic MSD (a chronic injury is one that is persistent, long-lasting or reoccurring.)
Construction workers may also work intermittently. Moving from employer to employer, over a period of days or years. They often find themselves in completely new environments with unfamiliar managers. Because of this, workplace safety may be unclear or hard to keep on top of. Read more about common types of accidents in the construction industry.
The effects of WRMSD’s
The back is reported to be the most problematic area for construction workers, and low back pain afflicts one-third of construction workers during their employment (Holstrom et al 1992). Living with low back pain can be deeply unpleasant, having an impact on the way that you enjoy life, such as playing with your children or simply just sitting comfortably and watching T.V. The nature of chronic back pain means that you may not just have pain while working, it may be constant or reoccurring – whether you’re at work or not.
Construction workers often report high levels of stress in their job (Holstrom et al 1992). Those who suffer from stress are more likely to report neck and shoulder trouble.
Having a WRMSD may mean that you have to take time off work, sometimes without sick pay, or result in finishing work completely and retiring before you are ready. This can have a huge impact on the individual and their family, emotionally and financially.
Construction workers should feel entitled to claim.
Construction workers often believe that getting hurt or working whilst they’re in pain are all part and parcel of a physically demanding job. However, no one should have to work while they are injured, do a task that worsens their injury or be forced to do something that causes injury. Workers should feel like they’re retiring because they’re good and ready to enjoy their pension and free time, and not because they feel physically spent and exhausted.
The construction industry has a duty to protect it’s employers. Workers shouldn’t have to ‘put up with’ injuries. Injuries like ‘plasterers arm’ shouldn’t be taken for granted. Construction bosses should look at using lighter materials, manual handling aids, extra time and teamwork where possible to reduce the physical load on their employees. The industry should not be profiting at the expense of their employees’ lives.
Talk to us about whether you have a claim.
If you have an injury or musculoskeletal problem which was caused by or worsened by your work. Please call us on 0114 267 8780 or fill in our claims form. You will be able to get no win, no fee advice from a local, qualified solicitor. We will be able to advise you on whether you will be able to make a claim, and what the process will be.