Even if construction workers are able to avoid sudden injuries at work, they are unfortunately still at high risk of injuries to their muscles, tendons, and joints. Each day on the job places wear and tear on a construction workers’ body, causing musculoskeletal disorders that can be incredibly painful, expensive to treat, and cause lost time from work or even early retirement.
Construction Workers Suffer More Joint Injuries Than All Other Employees
A 2017 study reported in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that the construction industry has a higher rate of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) than all industries combined. Musculoskeletal disorders can affect nearly any part of a worker’s body, and can cause joint dysfunctions in the hands, wrists, hips, elbows, and knees.
Types Of Construction Worker Musculoskeletal Disorders
Heavy physical workloads place a lot of stress on a worker’s back, hips and knees, leading to degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). Repetitive kneeling, stair climbing, gripping, and crawling required on construction sites may also contribute to the development of arthritis and the aggravation of rheumatoid arthritis.
Tendinitis, or an inflammation in the tendons, is caused by strain on a joint due to a specific and repeated movement. Carpal tunnel, tenosynovitis, trigger finger, and tennis elbow are all forms of tendinitis. Workers may be unable to use the affected body part without pain, hear a crunching noise (crepitus) in the joint, experience paralysis or loss of use of the limb, or suffer ganglionic cysts due to swelling under the skin.
Carpet Layers’ Knee
Excessive kneeling or using a knee kicker to install carpeting can cause an inflammation of the bursa beneath the kneecap, commonly known as carpet layer’s knee.
Musculoskeletal injuries can include a wide range of trauma, including strains and sprains. Ligament damage, commonly known as a sprain, occurs when ligaments are stretched too far or used excessively without being given time to rest.
Risk Factors for Construction Knee and Joint Injuries
While it may be impossible to prevent wear and tear on the body, there are many ways to prevent repetitive strain injury in every workplace—including a construction site. If a constructor or subcontractor did not take the proper steps to prevent heavy lifting injuries, long work hours, or other conditions that led to a joint injury, the worker may be able to make a claim for damages against the negligent third party.
Any task that involves the same motions over and over again places a worker at risk of injury. Construction managers should ensure that workers perform repetitive actions in teams, placing limits on the amount of time a worker can spend performing a repetitive task.
Pulling, pushing, holding, and lifting all place stress on the body, so these actions should be assisted by machinery whenever possible. Employees should also be assigned partners for lifting to redistribute the load, placing less strain on each worker.
Awkward Body Postures
Construction workers often contort themselves into uncomfortable positions to attach pipes, screw in fixtures, or lay tile and flooring. Unfortunately, many injuries are caused by unnatural postures, including sustained awkward positions, lifting and twisting at the same time, or sudden reactions (such as avoiding contact with a machine or stopping a fall).
Lack of Precautions
Nearly all repetitive strain injuries can be prevented by proper intervention, protection, and employee training. In many cases, work may be organized in a way that reduces repetition, and adequate staffing can spread tasks out among workers. Workers may also reduce injury by using back braces, assistive tools, and elbow and knee pads.
Since joint injuries are usually caused by repetitive strain, it may not be easy to prove that the job is to blame. If you were injured while working on a New York City construction site, we can help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve and determine whether you may be able to file a third-party claim. Fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a construction injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today.