construction industry

Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Construction Industry

Anthea Legal and Financial Information

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most common causes of lost time in the construction industry. As such, it’s important to make sure that your workers are closely following safety guidelines to avoid MSDs.

About Musculoskeletal Disorders

The term MSD encompasses a wide range of injuries and pains in the musculoskeletal system such as lower back pain, tendinitis, carpel tunnel syndrome and carpet layer’s knee. Unlike some other injuries, MSDs are usually not caused by a single incident, but instead are gradually developed over time.

The following risk factors can all help contribute to developing MSDs, especially in combination with each other:

  • Forceful exertion
  • Repetitive movements
  • Awkward poses
  • Contact pressure with soft tissues
  • Vibration
  • Extreme temperatures

MSDs are some of the costliest occupational problems, accounting for 32 per cent of the 26,510 total annual lost-time claims in construction, resulting in $72 million in costs.

The Ministry of Labour is combating the high number of reported MSDs by performing inspections on workplaces in the construction, health care, industrial and mining sectors. The inspections will last from Oct. 1 to Dec. 27, 2019.

Particular emphasis during the inspections will be focused on whether objects are being stored, picked up and moved safely, as well as whether workers are exposed to prolonged vibration and how safely work is performed on ladders. It will also check that employers have provided training to workers on safely handling materials manually, that work areas and routes are free of obstructions and, likewise, that the use of assistive devices such as carts is not blocked.

Best Practices for Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders

To help prevent MSDs in the workplace, it is important to identify job-related MSD hazards, reduce workers’ exposure to those hazards and educate workers on MSD hazards.

Exposure to MSD hazards can be reduced through the use of personal protective equipment, changing processes or procedures, and by introducing physical changes to the workplace such as using machines to help workers perform strenuous actions.

Regardless of your job title, working safely is everyone’s responsibility! Ensure that everyone on your team feels comfortable with these best practices to stay healthy and safe while on the job site.