In construction, 25% of injuries are back injuries. Construction has the highest rate of back injuries of any industry, except transportation. Every year, a back injury causes 1 in 100 construction workers to miss work — usually missing about 7 workdays, but sometimes more than 30. Most of the back problems are low-back injuries. Repeated injury to your back can cause permanent damage and end your career.
Most back injuries are sprains and strains from lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, and pulling materials.
You are at higher risk of low-back injury if you often carry heavy loads, must twist while carrying heavy loads, or work a lot while bent over or in other awkward postures.
To learn about safety standards and to avoid injury in the workplace see our health and safety focused courses.
Injuries can be reduced by planning, changing how work is done, and training workers and supervisors.
- Cut down on carrying. Have materials delivered close to where they will be used
- Try to store materials at waist height
- Raise your work to waist level, if you can
- Make sure floors and walkways are clear and dry -slips and trips are a big cause of back injuries
- Take rest breaks. When you are tired, you can get injured more
- Use carts, dollies, forklifts, and hoists to move materials — not your back
- Use carrying tools with handles to get a good grip on wallboard or other odd-shaped loads
- If materials weigh more than about 50 pounds, do not lift them by yourself. Get help from another worker or use a cart
- When lifting or carrying materials, keep the load as close to your body as you can
- Try not to twist, when lifting and lowering materials. Turn your whole body instead
- Lift and lower materials in a smooth steady way.
When you pick up materials off the ground:
- Try supporting yourself by leaning on something while lifting.
- Don’t bend over; instead, kneel on one knee and pull the load up on to your knee before standing