When we think of construction workplace accidents, we often think of incidents involving tools or falls. But a large number of employee injuries in such environments are actually musculoskeletal disorders that develop from repetitive motion injuries or strains and sprains. Some examples of MSDs include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis.
Other terms you might hear that also describe these injures include repetitive strain injuries and cumulative trauma disorders. Risk factors that increase your chance of developing this type of injury include using tools that are inappropriate for the job, are too big or too small or are otherwise poorly designed. Your employer should provide tools that are appropriate for the work at hand when it does require tools, and it’s a good idea to invest in well-designed tools if you provide your own.
Other risk factors for repetitive motion injuries or MSDs include working in an awkward position, using excessive force when completing a task or dealing with vibration. While you can’t remove these factors completely from your job, you can reduce them greatly by following safety and ergonomic protocols and using the right tools and equipment for the job.
Working in extreme temperatures, particularly without the proper protective clothing, repeating the same tasks over and over through many days or years of work or working in an area that is poorly organized are all other factors that can increase the likelihood of these injuries. Some ways to mitigate these issues include taking breaks as needed, planning jobs well and supervising jobs for maximum safety.
If you are dealing with a repetitive motion injury sustained in a construction environment or any other type of job, your treatment and expenses might be covered under workers’ compensation. If you’ve been denied coverage, then speaking to a legal professional might help you understand what options you have for seeking compensation or an appeal.
Source: State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, AFL-CIO, 2012, “Preventing Sprains, Strains, and Repetitive Motion Injuries,” accessed April 08, 2016