Construction workers face many on-the-job risks, from the dangers of being electrocuted or crushed by tools and equipment to the possibility that they will suffer a fall or have an object fall on them. With so many dangerous conditions at work, it may come as a surprise that one of the leading causes of worker injury in the construction field is overexertion. Overexertion can happen if too much stress is placed on the body and ligaments, muscles, tendons, or other soft tissues are damaged.
Overexertion is one of several causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, or WMSDs. According to Fox News, approximately one out of every four work injury incident in construction is a musculoskeletal disorder. The fact a substantial number of workers develop WMSDs every year in the construction industry has a profound impact on workers and on employers. Preventing this type of injury needs to be a top priority for all parties to reduce the losses that come from damaging the soft tissues of the body.
Fox News reported approximately 18,000 workers get WMSDs annually. In 1992, the number of workers who were reported to have developed WMSDs was 55,000. The number may be smaller now partly due to change in reporting rules from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The number may also be smaller now because of underreporting of this type of injury. In other words, there may be many thousands more construction workers with injuries to the musculoskeletal system who have not reported their injury and who are not claiming the workers' compensation benefits they are entitled to by law.
Workers who do suffer WMSDs miss an average of 13 days of work now, which is higher than the eight days of missed work time from 1992. The longer time off from work could be because it is primarily more serious WMSDs that are being reported now. Workers who miss all of this work are forced to cope with reduced income as well as medical costs. Workers' compensation should cover theses costs if construction workers can make a successful claim with help from a workers' comp lawyer.
The total costs of work-related musculoskeletal disorders are estimated to be around $46 million yearly, so getting benefits is very important. Workers cannot be responsible of shouldering the burden of these tremendous financial losses and workers' comp needs to provide for construction workers with WMSDs.
Employers should also explore ways to try to reduce the number of musculoskeletal disorders that develop on-the-job. Making sure ergonomics is considered on construction sites is important. Employees also need to be properly trained in safe movements, like safe lifting, and employers should try to develop processes that protect workers such as incorporating the use of power equipment to move heavy objects.