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Why construction workers sustain so many back injuries

As a California construction worker, you know that your job requires you to lift, carry and move heavy equipment and materials every day. Since you probably do not consciously think of the beating your back takes day after day, you could be injuring it without knowing it.

Construction workers like you remain at high risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, generally known as WMSDs, particularly those occurring in your back. As you might expect, the older your age and the more years you have spent on the job, the higher your risk of back injury. In 2014 alone, construction workers lost over $46 million in wages because they had to take an average of 13 days off from work to recover from their relatively minor back injuries.

High-risk construction jobs

While construction workers as a group face a high risk of back injury, your risk increases if your job consists of one of the following:

  • Bricklayer or stonemason
  • Roofer
  • Jackhammer operator
  • Floor or wall tile installer
  • Drywall installer

Weight over time

Even when the things you constantly lift at work do not weigh all that much in and of themselves, the weight you lift over time becomes extraordinary. Suppose, for example, you lift a 38-pound brick 200 times a day. The weight over time adds up as follows:

  • Every work day you lift 3.8 tons.
  • Every work week you lift 19 tons.
  • Every work year you lift 950 tons.

Taking care of your back should be one of your major concerns while at work. Whenever possible, do not lift heavy materials and equipment by yourself. Ask a colleague to help you, or use a hoist, dolly or mechanical lift. In addition, when you must lift something up off the floor or ground, lift with your knees, not your back.

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