Don’t chance musculoskeletal injuries

Construction is one of the fastest growing industries in Victoria, employing around 275,000 workers.

While significant safety improvements have been made, the number of deaths, injuries and near miss incidents remain too high. Each week, around 60 construction workers are injured seriously enough that they have to stop work. These injuries commonly occur as a result of basic site safety failings.

Builders and contractors are being urged to do more to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, the most common type of injury to construction workers.

WorkSafe inspectors will be visiting construction sites in coming weeks to ensure sites are managing the hazards and risks associated with Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) which are typically soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains or injuries from overuse.

MSDs are most commonly caused by manual handling such as lifting heavy or awkward loads, or slips and trips while moving around a work site.

In the past five years, WorkSafe has accepted more than 6,200 injury claims made by construction workers for MSDs. Around 60 per cent of those workers needed more than four weeks off work.

WorkSafe Construction Program Manager Dermot Moody said the impact of an MSD can be devastating.

“A soft tissue injury to a back, shoulder, or wrist can be long term, debilitating and often career-ending,” Mr Moody said.

“The frustrating part is that most of these injuries are easily preventable and don’t require a great deal of time or money to reduce the risk.”

Mr Moody has urged all building industry employers and contractors to reassess the effectiveness of their injury prevention strategies.

“Don’t leave safety to chance or so-called ‘common sense’. Be proactive and get appropriate controls in place before an incident occurs rather than after the fact” he said.

Tips for preventing musculoskeletal disorders include:

  • Use mechanical load shifting devices such as cranes, material hoists, forklifts and trolleys to move materials around the site
  • Ensure load shifting equipment is in good order, including ensuring that tyres on trolleys and wheel barrows are correctly inflated
  • Use job rotation/work variation to reduce exposure to repetitive work, or work that requires significant force
  • Ensure walking surfaces are level, dry and free from mud to prevent trips and falls
  • Install ramps where surface level changes
  • Carry out regular site clean ups and inspections

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Source: WorkSafe VIC, 29 March 2018