Musculoskeletal: The hidden costs to workers lives and businesses

You know that old saying… “no pain, no gain’”. Well, this is not true!  Just because you work in the construction industry doesn’t mean that you need to be affected by short or long-term pain.


Aches and pains are some obvious symptoms of musculoskeletal disease (MSD), but have you thought about what impacts MSD is having on you outside of work in your personal life?


What if constantly performing the same repetitive movement all day is causing you acute pain that means you aren’t able to kick the football around with your kids after work or play golf on the weekend with your mates? Do you really want your work to impact your personal life, or your worker’s lives when there are some simple steps that could prevent it from happening?


As a business owner have you thought about the hidden costs?
Data shows that strains and sprains often become more problematic later in a construction worker’s career, with the largest claims in the housing construction sector. In 2017, the average compensation paid and working weeks lost for musculoskeletal injury was $13,500 (7.2 weeks lost) for muscular stress while handling objects, $12,500 (6.4 weeks lost) for muscular stress while lifting, carrying, or putting down objects, and $12,200 (5.5 weeks lost) for muscular stress with no objects being handled.


There is a large range of costs that surface when someone has an injury on the job, especially when they can’t return to work the next day or sometimes weeks or months. This has a huge impact on deadlines, bottom line, skills on-site, and team dynamics.


Risky work that can cause MSD’s can be as simple as overhead or floor level work, manual and hand intensive work.


Have you thought about other ways you could be working to alleviate the stress on your body? It could be as simple as:

  • doing a few warm-ups at the start of the day,
  • breaking up your tasks throughout the day,
  • taking a moment to stop and stretch throughout the task or
  • choosing a different piece of equipment.


It’s common practice when you workout, that you warm-up and cool down, so why is working any different?


Accepting the reality of MSDs helps us formulate an effective approach to combat MSDs in our industry.


MSD’s occur due to a number of risk factors including repetitive or sustained force high or sudden force repetitive movement sustained and/or awkward posture or exposure to vibration.We will more than likely be exposed to each of these risk factors every day on-site so it is important to always think:

  • Can I use a mechanical device or grip device to help me lift?
  • Can I reduce the weight of what needs to be lifted?
  • Can I change the height of what needs to be lifted so it is positioned above mid-thigh height and below shoulder height?
  • Can I change the tools that I use onsite?


Let’s do our bit and raise awareness on-site around MSD. REMEMBER – Prevention is better than the cure!


Next week we will give you some exercises that you can do to avoid being affected by MSD and if you are hurt, how physiotherapy can help you.

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