If you work in the construction industry, it probably comes as no surprise that overexertion is a factor in the majority of construction injuries. The building of bridges, tunnels, and skyscrapers requires a great deal of heavy lifting and repetitive movements, placing employees at high risk for debilitating overexertion injuries and disorders.
Common Types of Overexertion Injuries in Construction Work
Overexertion can take many forms, from reaching to retrieve a dropped tool to the repeated holding and carrying of heavy objects. Overuse and overexertion are common causes of musculoskeletal injuries—injuries to the muscles, joints, and tendons—which account for about 25 percent of non-fatal, work-related injuries in the construction industry.
A wide range of injuries may be attributed to overexertion, including:
- Back injuries. Nearly half of all musculoskeletal disorders related to construction work are back injuries, including slipped discs, nerve damage, and muscle strain. The daily toll of lifting, bending, reaching, and pulling heavy or awkward objects can degrade and weaken the spine, causing permanent limitations that may force workers into early retirement.
- Repetitive strain injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries may develop over the course of several months or years of an employee’s repeated bodily movements, such as knee injuries from daily squatting and kneeling.
- Forceful exertion injuries. In some cases, overexertion injuries are the result of a single incident, such as lifting a weight that is designed for more than one person.
- Equipment injuries. Even when machinery is used to make the construction process easier, workers may still face the risk of overexertion injuries due to repeatedly pulling handles on presses, sitting for extended periods in trucks, turning knobs, or maneuvering loaded carts.
- Posture stresses. Holding an awkward posture for an extended period of time (such as kneeling to install plumbing or working on overhead plumbing and wiring) can place stress on the joints and ligaments.
- Vibration injuries. Workers may suffer finger and hand injuries due to working with jackhammers or holding down triggers on nail guns and handheld saws.
- Temperature extremes. Working in conditions that are too cold or too hot can take a toll on the body. Heat stress may cause overexertion injuries due to dehydration or dizziness, while hypothermia can cause impaired judgment or finger injuries due to frostbite.
Employers Have a Duty to Minimize Overexertion Injuries
Construction workers in New York are protected under a variety of different laws aimed at reducing severe injury and death. If an injury occurred due to an unreasonably dangerous workplace, employees may be able to file construction injury lawsuits against a negligent employer, contractor, or third party.
Employers should take steps to ease the burden of overexertion injuries through:
- Injury prevention. Site owners, general contractors, and subcontractors all bear some responsibility for making the workplace as safe as possible. Best practices for preventing injuries include hiring competent workers, providing proper training on safe lifting techniques, and requiring employees to follow safety protocols when performing heavy lifting or repetitive movements.
- Environmental controls. Construction workplaces should be set up in a way that is intended to prevent injuries, including addressing ergonomic concerns to avoid long-term damage to muscles and joints. If a potential cause of injury is identified, employers should take steps to make these dangerous conditions as safe as possible.
- Workers’ compensation. If an injury occurs, employees should not have to pay for the costs of medical bills and lost income. Employers are responsible for securing workers’ compensation insurance that will provide adequate disability benefits and medical coverage for any musculoskeletal disorder caused by doing work tasks.
If you have been injured on a New York City construction site, our attorneys can get you the compensation you are owed—and we do not collect any fees until after your case is won. Simply fill out our quick online contact form or call (800) 362-9329 to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Hofmann & Schweitzer today, or read through our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.