3 Examples of MSDs in Construction and How to Prevent Them

Rose Morrison

Jun 26, 2024

drawing of a spine to represent MSDs in construction

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Construction is a very accident-prone industry. Using the wrong equipment or slipping while on site can create peril. However, workers must also consider physical ailments. Sprains from daily work can have long–term effects on one’s body, developing certain musculoskeletal disorders. 

What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs in construction refer to conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints. About 1.71 billion people around the world have musculoskeletal conditions, which can result in early retirement, minimal movement and low quality of life. 

Construction entails plenty of physical activity, from heavy lifting to repetitive movements. Seniors and other groups with lower physical health should be more careful. Overexertion and poor posture can contribute greatly to the development of such conditions. 

old person who is vulnerable to MSDs in construction

Examples of MSDs in Construction

MSD development depends on the amount of stress you’ve put on your body and the severity of the developing condition. Here’s a list of examples and their symptoms. 

1. Back Pain

Back pain is a common issue in the United States after strenuous activity. However, having it recur repeatedly is quite a problem. It’s even worse if the dull aches turn into sharp pain that spreads all over the body. While back pain is a condition of its own, it can also be a symptom of another MSD.

Treating back pain may be challenging, as it affects the cervical and lumbar spines, ligaments and other components. Doctors will have to pinpoint the exact pain point to narrow down the nature of the back pain and how to fix it. 

2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an MSD that affects the hands and wrists. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness and pain in the fingers. Some may even have trouble gripping items due to weakness.

Construction work involves hands-on work and repetitive motions. While newer technology can help, the vibrations can also weaken the muscles. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be treated, but expect to keep your hands free for a while to avoid aggravating it. 

3. Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a condition that occurs when the tendons are inflamed. These components are important for connecting the muscle to the bone, so straining these areas causes great discomfort and swelling. 

There are cases where professionals may misdiagnose tendinitis as carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are similar when the pain is in the wrist. However, tendinitis can affect other parts of the body, such as the elbows, knees and other joints. 

person on a construction site

Preventing MSDs in Construction

MSDs can be treated, but each condition’s full impact can still be quite a painful experience. The best way to protect your physique is through prevention. Here are some methods for obtaining musculoskeletal conditions.

1. Avoid Straining the Back Outside of Work

Construction work worsens existing musculoskeletal pain, so make sure to take care of your body. Sleeping on the wrong bed can aggravate back pain and reinforce bad posture. Try to pick a mattress that matches your body weight and sleeping needs to keep your body in a prime position.

Nutrition is also an important factor. Your body needs many vitamins and minerals to maintain bone health. Plant milks effectively offer calcium levels that match regular dairy. You can also try other food options like salmon and tofu. 

2. Practice Good Work Techniques On-Site

When you get to work, remember to warm up and stretch. Conditioning your muscles before other strenuous activities can minimize strain in the long run and help your performance while on-site.

Avoid making risky decisions. If items are too heavy to carry, use carts or forklifts to transport them. If you do have to carry something, make sure to utilize proper lifting techniques. Keep your back straight and lift with your limbs to distribute pressure evenly.

3. Utilize Personal Protective Equipment

Plenty of PPE can help with avoiding MSDs in construction. For instance, knee, elbow, and shoulder pads support the joints. When working with machinery, you can use gloves to minimize the vibrations’ impact on the body. Construction workers not using PPE are about three times more likely to be injured than those using them. Take advantage of them. 

Steer Clear of MSDs in Construction

MSDs in construction may be quite painful. If you feel pain in your muscles, bones, or joints, seek immediate medical attention to treat the ailment. If it’s not hurting yet, adopt prevention methods as early as now to secure your physical health.

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