Feb 2017

Preventing Overexertion Injuries Could Cut Costs & Reduce Harm for Construction Workers

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyOverexertion is one of the leading causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). WMSDs are a major problem for workers within the construction industry, with a substantial number of employees experiencing this injury each year. According to Fox News, studies showed approximately 18,000 construction workers suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2014.

This is down from around 55,000 annual WMSDs reported by construction workers in 1992. However, the big decline isn’t just because of safer worksites, but is instead, partly explained by underreporting of WMSDs. In part, the decline is also explained by changes in how injuries are reported to Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Despite the decline in work-related musculoskeletal disorders, this type of injury still accounts for about 25 percent of non-fatal, work-related injuries that affect employees in the construction industry. WMSDs is actually a relatively broad category of injuries, which includes injuries to muscles, joints, and tendons. Overexertion is one of the big ways in which people hurt these parts of their body, although there are also other ways to injure the musculoskeletal system including repetitive motion. If you overexert yourself, such as by lifting more weight than you can, your body systems suffer and you can experience pain and limited mobility.

Many construction workers who overexert themselves, or who otherwise develop WMSDs, will end up with back injuries. Approximately 40 percent of musculoskeletal disorders that happen due to construction tasks are back injuries. When a back injury or any other WMSD happens, workers miss an average of 13 days of work. In 1992, they missed around eight days of work for work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

The costs that come with missed work include loss of productivity for the employer and loss of a paycheck for the injured worker. Annual costs are around $46 million, which is obviously a substantial amount of money. Workers often cannot afford to cover the costs of treatment for injuries and time they are forced to take off from work. Employees should not have to pay for these costs, as workers’ compensation benefits should be available to provide them with disability income and medical coverage. With help from an attorney, an injured worker can make a claim for benefits and should be eligible as long as he can prove his musculoskeletal disorder was caused by doing work tasks.

Prevention of injury is the best way for employers and workers to avoid costs, and preventing injuries can be possible if employers do things like offer proper training on safe lifting or incorporating the use of power equipment to move items instead of relying upon workers to always lift and transport heavy materials. Construction workplaces should be designed as much as possible with a focus on ergonomics in order to try to ensure that construction staff members are able to avoid damaging their musculoskeletal system while they are performing their own duties.

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