Ergonomics is the science and practice of designing job tasks or workplaces to match the capabilities and limitations of the human body.  When ergonomics are not taken into account in the workplace, musculoskeletal injuries can occur.  
Many construction workers suffer from back injuries, sprains and strains, wrist, shoulder, elbow, hip and knee problems because they exceed the limitations of their body on a regular basis.   These musculoskeletal injuries are not caused by a specific incident, but are brought on over time by the repeated performance of their jobs.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognized that ergonomics was a problem for constructions workers and funded a study of the ergonomic problems of many construction trades.   The ergonomic risks that may cause construction site injury in each trade are summarized below:
Building construction workers
• Heavy lifting
• Arm and body vibration caused by machinery
• Repetitive motion
• Reaching overhead to work
• Lifting materials overhead
• Working on the floor or in a stooped position
Excavation workers
• Body vibration from earthmoving equipment and hand arm vibrations from soil tampers
• Ergonomic problems from poor seat and cab design
• Working in bent and awkward postures
Masons and masonry workers
• Heavy lifting and carrying
• Constant stooping to pick up materials
Concrete workers
• Workers risk back injury from the following:  use of heavy saws that are poorly balanced, digging of ditches and footers, driving stakes with sledge hammers, use of saw horses that are too tall or short, and carrying, setting and stripping of forms
• Body and arm vibration from power tools
Steel workers
• Welding in awkward postures
• Repetitive motions
• Whole body vibration from crane operation

Concrete workers

• Working in a bent posture
• Vibration hazards from equipment 
Sheet metal workers
• Reaching overhead puts stress on the arms, shoulders and neck
• Hand-arm stress from constant use and recoil of power tools
• Working in awkward or stooped positions
• Welding and pipe fitting in cramped positions
• Working while reaching overhead
• Wrist injuries caused by repeated use of welding torches 
Electrical workers
• Hand tools that are not ergonomically designed may cause wrist injuries
• Manual cable pulling may strain the back
• Carrying and working with heavy materials may cause back injury
Drywall installers
• Overhead work when  shooting metal plates into the ceiling and placing ceiling drywall
• Poor design of drywall knives
• Moving large drywall sheets may cause back injury
• Repeated use of screw guns can cause wrist problems
• Repetitive movement
• Knee stress from working on stilts
• Overhead work puts stress on the arms, shoulders, neck and back
• Carrying paint materials with poorly designed handles can be stressful on the hands
Carpet installers
• Working in a bent kneeling position
• Using a knee kicker may cause serious injury to the knees
• Heavy lifting
Road construction workers
• Whole body vibration from pavers and other equipment
• Heavy lifting may cause back injury

Overexertion is a risk for all construction trades.
Over time, these ergonomic risks may cause serious injury.  However, ergonomic problems are not unavoidable. Properly designed tools can reduce risk of injury from vibration and awkward positioning.  Other tools can reduce overhead or floor level work.  But, changing the way work is done requires both the worker and contractor to be aware of the risks of musculoskeletal injury.

Injured In A Kansas City Area Construction Accident?

Have you been injured in a Kansas City area construction accident? If so you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.


James Roswold
Connect with me
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.