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Ergonomics Injury Prevention in Construction

Ergonomics is the applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely. The lack of application of ergonomics results in MusculoSkeletal Disorder (MSDs). MSDs develop slowly over time and occur in the soft tissues of your body like the nerves, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints. MSD’s are injuries causing tissue break down that occur over time, typically over many years. Examples of these injuries include low back strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries and tendonitis. 

Benefits of an Ergonomic Program and Mindset

  • Improved Company Culture

Wachs is committed to the health and safety of its Team members. The following additional four benefits all cumulate into our mindset and culture: 

  • Improved Employee Interactions

Reducing fatigue and injuries on the job site results in a lower rate of turn over (dragging-up) and absenteeism. Using the JHA before the start of the shift and asking about ergonomic issues and problems gives us an opportunity to proactively problem solve. Communication and interaction concerning the safety and health of the team provide an additional benefit of improved morale and employee engagement. We spend considerable time and effort on our training program and being able to keep our craftsmen engaged with positive focus saves money, improves feedback, and in turn makes our clients pleased with Wachs' efforts. 

  • Improved Quality

The cornerstone in Wachs' Quality program is our Team. When you have a Team able to focus on the results of their effort, and not distracted by fatigue, pain, or injuries it shows in the final product. When a job becomes too physically demanding, the attention to quality and safety become a second thought. 

  • Improved Productivity

When a work area and task are thought-out to include solutions for the movement of heavy/awkward materials or working from awkward positions, productivity increases. There is also the added benefit of less time away from work looking for tools and equipment not collected at the start, time away due to the treatment of injuries, and possible replacement of team members. 

Cost Reduction

Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSD’s and injuries are both common and costly. Planning at the JHA stage (pretask/job) can significantly reduce the chances of these injury types and job setbacks. 

Graphic Courtesy FitForWork

Graphic Courtesy FitForWork

The 5 Most Common Ergonomic Hazard in Construction

Repetition - involves doing the same task repeatedly, using the same muscles over and over. 

High Force - using high muscle power during activities such as heavy lifting, pushing items or gripping tools. 

Awkward Postures- working with your body held in a poor position for a long time. 

Contact Stress- when pressure from an object is pushed on the soft body tissues (i.e., tool handle). 

Hand-Arm Vibration-vibration that enters the body from a power tool or equipment. 







Preventative Measures

At Wachs Services we have systems in place to reduce the chances of repetitive stress injuries or MSDs. 

  • Preshift Stretching

Stretching before you begin work and during short breaks helps to warm-up muscles, increase flexibility, increase mental alertness and reduce fatigue. Additionally, it is important to stretch to relieve tension after a lengthy task duration or awkward position. 

  • JHA/JSA Preshift/Pretask

The review and documentation of task/jobs before work with input from the whole Team will lessen the chance that the proper tools are not pre-sent and will help ensure the proper procedures (both Safety and Quality) are in place. Not only will this system work to lessen injuries, it will increase both quality and efficiency by providing increased focus on task. 

Additional Ways To Prevent MSDs

First, you must recognize the hazards in your work tasks. 

  • Think about tasks that are uncomfortable or difficult to perform. 
  • Try solutions (work technique, tools or equipment) to make the job easier to accomplish. 
  • Share your ideas and ask others for ideas. 

For more information, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!