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 are 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 workers 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. Between 2015 and 2019,  57% of ACC claims were MSD injuries, with the average cost being $3700, and a total of  1.9 million compensation days paid out, costing a total of $325m! 

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 work out, 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. There are a lot of myths out there  about MSD, such as its caused by poor manual handling techniques. The trouble with myths is they create unnecessary fear and hinder progress so they need to be challenged. Over time, new evidence emerges to help us understand the reality of the situation and

our understanding of MSDs has changed significantly over the years. For example Len Rings saying “Don’t use your back as a crane” is no longer repeated as we now know you need to move your spine through its whole range of motion regularly to keep it healthy and strong.

Check out CHASNZ  top five MSD myths in construction.

Let’s do our bit and raise awareness on-site around MSD. 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.