September 26, 2012
The lasting effects of overexertion
View from the Board | Don Schouten
You may have heard of the term musculoskeletal injury (MSI), also referred to as overexertion. This describes a soft tissue injury, usually called a strain or sprain, caused by lifting heavy objects, pulling or pushing items, or doing the same repetitive motion for too long.
There are all sorts of things workers have to do on the job that can cause sprains and strains. In the construction industry, they are a bigger problem than you may think. Between 2009 and 2011, there were about 5,300 overexertion claims. These represent approximately 25 per cent of all claims, and roughly 22 per cent of all claims costs in the construction industry.
MSI’s are the second most common type of injury in this business, after falls. On average, workers lose 62 days of work for each overexertion claim. The uninsured costs (those not covered by WorkSafeBC insurance), such as replacement personnel, and the human costs, in terms of pain and disability, are often more substantial.
In construction, we cannot change the physical nature of the work, but we can minimize or eliminate the risk of injury. So, how can employers keep workers from getting injured due to overexertion? The best way to reduce injuries, increase production and save money is to ensure there is proper planning prior to handling materials and equipment on-site. This can be done through risk assessment, education, training, supervision and continued communication with workers on risk reduction.
Asking the following questions can help minimize risk:
Can material handling activities be eliminated?
Are materials delivered as close as possible to where they will be used?
Can dollies or carts be used to carry materials?
Can equipment, such as cranes, mobile hoists or forklifts, be used to move loads or otherwise make the task easier?
Can extra workers help handle loads?
Are handles or lifting hooks available to carry materials?
Can loads be limited to a weight of 25 kg if they will be handled by workers?
Are handling tasks organized to eliminate or minimize double-handling?
Are routes kept clear for workers and equipment access?
If a worker does get injured due to overexertion, it’s important to have an effective return-to-work program in place as part of a workplace health and safety plan.
Helping an injured worker get back on the job safely is a win-win situation. For the business, it means lower costs and good relationships with workers. For the employee, it will likely make for a faster and better recovery.
To find out about adding a return-to-work program, visit WorkSafeBC’s rehabilitation and return-to-work page at www.worksafebc.com/claims/rehab_and_rtw and follow the links. To prevent workers from getting injured in the first place, go to the overexertion section of our construction portal at www2.worksafebc.com/Portals/Construction/Home.asp.
Don Schouten is the manager of construction with Industry and Labour Services at WorkSafeBC. Don is also a Journal of Commerce Editorial Advisory Board member. Direct comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|MOST POPULAR STORIES|
|TODAY’S TOP CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS|
These projects have been selected from 316 projects with a total value of $2,787,806,637 that Reed Construction Data Building Reports reported on Friday.
$1,000,000,000 Edmonton AB Prebid
$220,000,000 Medicine Hat AB Negotiated
$50,000,000 Calgary AB Prebid
- Construction Site Arson
- Industry reacts to surprise B.C. Liberal majority
- Journal of Commerce Update for the week of May 20th, 2013
- Calgary Airport Tunnel
- Worker at centre of union sign up allegations speaks out
- Calgary program aims to get more people into the trades
- Midrise in the City
- Veterans battle barriers into the trades
- Government makes changes to online tendering
- SNC-Lavalin maintains that new bribery allegations have been resolved
- B.C. faces a tough battle for top talent
- Keyano College building state of the art training facility
- Essential skills can play a vital role in an apprentices' success
- Taking a closer look at the risks in green building for contractors
- Colleges conduct construction research in addition to teaching
- Skills Canada BC Competition
- Lower Mainland high school trades program is unique
- Construction Learning Forum aims to educate
- High schools looking for more industry participation
- Industrial construction supervisor program takes off
- Saskatchewan bill passed
- Edmonton garners support for regional cash for arena
- Feds pledge $5 million for Vimy memorial
- VIDEO: Competing in the trades
- Provinces need to loosen up apprenticeship rules
- Way Up on Westwood
- Building Up On Bayview
- Barrie Construction Association rolls with motorcycle ride for cancer
- Vimy Ridge memorial gets new visitor centre
- Minnesota Vikings unveil new multi-use stadium plan
- Proposed Ambassador Bridge twinning draws Windsor mayor’s ire
- Construction on pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Airport continues to make progress
|ALEX’S ECONOMICS BLOG|
Reed Construction Data Canada’s Chief Economist Alex Carrick discusses current developments in the North American economic environment with emphasis on the construction industry.
- An Overview of Prices and Sales in the Diverging U.S. and Canadian Housing Markets (April 25, 2013)
- Canada’s Precarious Dependence on the Commodity Price Super-Cycle (April 22, 2013)
- Twenty major upcoming residential and transportation terminal construction projects - April 2013 (April 15, 2013)