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Why do construction workers suffer so many back injuries?

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If you work construction, no one need tell you that your back takes a beating virtually every day. Your job requires you to lift, carry and move heavy tools and equipment almost constantly. This, in turn, puts constant stress and strain on your back that can lead to chronic painful back conditions or even actual back injury.

All construction jobs carry with them the potential for back injuries, but you face an especially high risk for sustaining one if you work as one of the following:

  • Roofer
  • Jackhammer operator
  • Drywall installer
  • Stonemason
  • Bricklayer
  • Tile installer (either wall or floor)

Furthermore, your risk of back injury increases the older you become and the longer you work in your chosen trade.

Startling cumulative weight example

In all likelihood you do not think about the weights you lift every day on your job. But they quickly add up over time. An eye-opening example provided by the Center for Construction Research and Training shows the enormous weight you actually lift. For this example, assume you work as a bricklayer who must lift about 200 38-pound bricks each working day. Amazingly, the resulting cumulative weights result as follows:

  • You lift 3.8 tons every day
  • You lift 19 tons every week
  • You lift 950 tons every year

Back injury prevention

Given the above mind-blowing figures, your best interests dictate that you take care of your back to the best of your ability. For instance, never lift or move objects weighing 50 or more pounds by yourself. Instead, ask a coworker to help you or use a device such as a hoist, dolly or forklift.