Muskuloskeletal Disorders or MSDs are soft tissue injuries that affect many construction workers. Globally MSDs are the largest category of workplace injuries and account for 30% of all US worker’s compensation costs. MSDs affect all the parts of the body that are responsible for movements such as the muscles, the tendons, the nerves, the ligaments, the disks or the blood vessels. They are the result of sudden or repetitive motions, forces or awkward positions.
Due to the nature of their activity, construction workers are among the workers who are the most at risk of suffering from MSDs with the most common cause being overexertion from activities such as pushing, pulling, holding carrying and catching as well as lifting and lowering. In its quarterly report the Center for Construction Research and Training provides an in-depth analysis of MSDs in the American construction industry.
In 2017, 19,690 WMSDs injuries resulted in days away from work in the construction industry with the most common injuries being sprains, strains and tears. Back injuries were the most predominant, followed by lower and upper extremities. Age is a main factor in muskuloskeletal disorders and the older a construction worker is the higher the risk is that he might suffer from WMSDs resulting in days away from work.
The tile and terrazo industry has the highest rate of workers suffering from MSDs followed by the painting and wall covering industry. By occupation, construction helpers as well as sheet metal workers have the highest risk of getting muskuloskeletal disorders.
Many construction workers continue to work while they are injured. According to the National Health Interview Survey, lower back pain symptoms are self-reported by almost 30% of construction workers. Other commonly self-reported MSD symptoms by construction workers include joint pain, neck pain and arthritis especially in workers above 55 year old.
MSDs are often preventable and ergonomics activities are the key to prevention.
The complete report can be downloaded here
photo courtesy of Wikimedia and taken by flickr Paul Keheler – flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1613462