Construction work is one of the most physically-demanding jobs available, and can place a considerable amount of stress on a worker’s body. Employers have a duty to prevent injuries during heavy lifting by enforcing proper safety procedures—and if an employee is hurt while lifting, pulling, or bending, he or she may be eligible for more than just workers’ compensation.
How Heavy Lifting Injuries Occur in Construction Work
Year after year, thousands of injuries are sustained by workers lifting heavy objects. In 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over a third of all workplace accidents that caused time off work involved shoulder and back injuries, many of which were due to lifting. These accidents involved a mix of injuries due to sudden overexertion as well as cumulative trauma to muscles and ligaments used to lift heavy items.
Common factors in construction lifting injuries include:
Loading and unloading errors.
Improper loading can cause stacked or packed items to shift suddenly, placing unexpected stress on one part of the worker’s body when lifted. Items that do not have adequate handholds are especially hazardous to lift, as they can position the load away from the body, require lower bending to lift, and increase the risk of dropping.
Lack of protective equipment.
Employees who are loading or unloading items should be equipped with back braces, proper footwear, and other safety equipment specific to the type of load.
Employers should ensure that workers share heavy loads and have enough employees on hand to help lift a heavy object.
Workers on a construction site should be advised on the dangers of lifting and carrying objects by hand and be trained on mechanical means of lifting available on the site.
Speed over safety.
Site owners who insist on using individuals to move loads by hand that should be moved mechanically or contractors who demand that workers move heavy loads quickly may be guilty of negligence.
Moving small or lightweight objects on a regular basis can result in lifting injuries due to repetitive stress. Employers should train workers to rotate tasks or to take frequent rest breaks during loading and unloading so employees are not exposed to the same activity for too long.
The work environment itself can increase the risk of lifting injuries, especially when the worksite is too hot (causing fatigue), too cold (effecting dexterity), or poorly lit (causing trips and falls).
Common Injuries Sustained by Lifting Objects on Construction Sites
Lifting accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries on a construction site, and workers’ compensation may not offer sufficient payment to cover the damage. In these cases, construction employees in New York City may be able to pursue a third-party claim against the property owner, contractor, or maker of a defective product to collect payment for the full extent of physical and financial losses.
Construction workers may be owed compensation for:
Lifting heavy objects can result in slipped discs, broken backbones, painful pinched nerves, or even spinal cord damage that causes permanent paralysis.
Improper lifting techniques or holding items for a long period of time places strain on the rotator cuff and shoulder muscles.
Overhead lifting and reaching often contribute to neck strain, while carrying loads on one shoulder or in one hand creates uneven stress on the neck muscles.
Wrist and elbow injuries.
Employees may suffer wrist injuries due to repeatedly carrying heavy items, unloading cargo at unnatural angles, or lifting items from another level or away from the body.
Carrying heavy cargo can place strain on the joints, weakening the ligaments and cartilage around the knees.
Foot and ankle injuries.
Many construction injuries occur due to dropping objects while lifting them, resulting in toe and foot fractures.
Have You Been Injured While Working On A Construction Site?
If you've been hurt while working at your construction job you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our New York City law office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.
We also invite you to read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.