Some of the most common injuries in construction occur when workers lift, stoop, kneel, twist, grip, stretch, reach overhead, or work in other awkward positions to perform a task. These musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) can include back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, sprains, and strains.

An ergonomics program can be a valuable way to reduce injuries, improve worker morale, and lower workers’ compensation costs. It may even increase productivity.

There may be a particularly urgent need for an ergonomics program at your site if:

  • Injury records or workers’ compensation claims show excessive hand, arm, and shoulder problems; low back pain; or carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Workers often say that some tasks are causing aches, pains, or soreness, especially if these symptoms do not go away after a night’s rest.
  • Other businesses similar to yours have high rates of work-related MSDs.

Effective ergonomics programs have included the following elements:

  • Employer commitment of time, personnel, and resources
  • Someone in charge of the program who is authorized to make decisions and institute change
  •  A system to identify and analyze risk factors
  • Worker and management training
  • Medical care for injured workers
  • Maintaining good injury records
  • Regular evaluation of the program’s effectiveness.

For additional information on developing an ergonomics program, see Elements of Ergonomics Programs (NIOSH Pub. No. 97-117).

Source: Simple Solutions: Ergonomics for Construction Workers. Click here to access this NIOSH booklet.