As a construction worker, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with your work—especially those related to overexertion. An estimated 3.5 million overexertion injuries occur in the US annually, making this the third leading cause of injuries nationwide. These injuries are often caused by lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, or carrying. As such, back injuries are very common forms of overexertion in the workplace.
In case an unfortunate accident does occur and you end up injured, you can look for legal assistance or compensation to cover any related medical expenses or lost wages, depending on your situation. To determine how to pursue justice after an incident involving personal injury, get in touch with a professional before weighing other options.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself from overexertion injuries at construction sites.
This article will provide six tips for avoiding crucial work-related harms; following these could significantly reduce your risk and keep you healthy on-site for years.
Take Proper Breaks
Construction work often involves strenuous physical activities, resulting in overexertion injuries. Strains, sprains, and muscle fatigue are common occurrences at construction sites and can result in painful symptoms and financial costs due to lost productive hours.
To help mitigate the risk of such injuries, workers should take regular breaks for their bodies to recover. Breaks of 20-30 minutes are recommended; during the break, stretching or light exercise may also be beneficial in preventing muscle fatigue over time.
Handle Heavy Tools Carefully
Heavy construction equipment, while impressive in size and strength, is prone to wear and tear. As such, all construction workers must exercise extreme caution when handling machinery. Thorough inspections should be conducted before each use, as well as regular preventive maintenance schedules, to ensure the equipment’s reliability.
Missing or faulty parts can endanger lives on construction sites; for this reason, all untrained personnel should be kept at a safe distance from operating machinery. Moreover, these tools must always be used for their intended purpose only.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Incorrect lifting techniques can cause overexertion injuries. Lifters should always use their legs and not their backs; keep the load close to the body; and avoid twisting or bending to protect their muscles from strain. Workers must understand how to lift safely to reduce their risk of injury.
The best practice for lifting is to maintain a bent-knee position and keep the load close; additionally, workers should avoid any unnecessary twisting or bending during the process. Lifting correctly can make all the difference in avoiding overexertion injuries.
Use Mechanical Aids
To reduce the risk of injury, employees should use mechanical aids such as cranes, forklifts, and hoists to complete certain tasks with less physical exertion. By utilizing these tools where applicable, employers protect their workers and ensure that projects are completed more efficiently.
Proper hydration is essential for worker safety on construction sites. Physical labor, such as construction work, often increases sweat and fluid loss if a proper hydration plan isn’t followed. The body requires a certain amount of hydration to prevent risk factors such as decreased energy levels, cramping, and dizziness.
To reduce the risk of injury on the job, workers should drink water or electrolyte-rich fluids like sports drinks or coconut water to remain adequately hydrated. While these drinks provide vital nutrients, it’s important not to consume beverages that are high in sugar or caffeine, as they can exacerbate dehydration.
Know Your Limits
Workers must know their physical limits and communicate with supervisors if they are asked to do more than they can handle. Acknowledging potential overexertion injuries is a great way to ensure safety while on the job and prevent musculoskeletal issues in the long run. However, it’s up to the employees and managers to ensure that responsibilities are assigned according to the workers’ capabilities.
Ultimately, prevention is the key to avoiding overexertion injuries on the job. Workers can take steps like regular breaks, correct lifting techniques, mechanical aids, staying hydrated, and wearing appropriate gear to reduce their risk of injury.