<< Back to Prevention Video (v-Tool): Sprains and Strains in Construction


Each year in the U.S., 31,000 construction workers seek medical attention due to sprains and strains suffered on the job. These injuries happen when the human body is forced to work beyond its limits. Lifting, pulling, pushing, reaching, bending, and other common construction activities can cause these injuries. The pain resulting from these injuries can last a lifetime and affect construction workers' lives at work and at home. But these injuries can be prevented.

This video shows how overexertion at construction sites can lead to worker injuries. The video will also show what employers must do so that the work can be done more safely. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and required protective equipment. You'll see that taking the right protective steps can help prevent these injuries.

An experienced stonemason and her tender were using large stone pieces to build a walkway for a new two-story townhome. A concrete slab was already in place, and the workers were putting the stone on top of the slab. The tender was mixing the mortar in five-gallon buckets and carrying the mortar to the mason.

After the mason spread some of the mortar onto the concrete slab, the workers bent over at the waist to pick up one of the heavy stone pieces. They kneeled down and hunched over to lay the stone piece on top of the mortar. After several days of carrying these heavy loads and kneeling and hunching while doing their work, both of these workers are experiencing severe lower back and knee pain.

Let's look at the events leading up to these injuries, and see how they could have been prevented. As before, the tender is mixing mortar. This time, a cement mixer is being used and the tender wheels the mortar over to the stonemason. The stone pieces have also been placed off the ground and both workers are now wearing knee pads. After the mason spreads some of the mortar, the workers pick up and lay one of the stone pieces into the wet mortar. Making these types of small changes in work activities can prevent painful injuries.

This example shows the importance of employers using OSHA's ergonomics guidelines. These are guidelines designed so workers can avoid stress and injury to their bodies. These types of injuries are preventable.

Follow OSHA's guidelines at work sites. By following the guidelines, workers can avoid suffering a lifetime of pain from these injuries.

If you would like more information, contact OSHA at www.osha.gov or 1-800-321-OSHA or 6742.