Construction WorkersStretching Can Save You Money

Learn how to avoid musculoskeletal disorders in the construction field with daily stretching.

 

Working in the construction industry can be hard work, but that hard work can be rewarding. Helping build something that wasn’t there before, remodeling something to look new again or making it even better than it was before, there are a lot of ways that the industry can be rewarding. One part of the job that is less than ideal, however, is injury. One of the more prevalent injuries in the construction field are known as musculoskeletal disorders. 

What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders & How Common Are They?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries to the soft tissue that is caused by a sudden or sustained exposure to repetitive force, vibration, force and awkward positions. In addition to pain and discomfort, as well as physical suffering for the injured workers, MSDs have caused financial burdens on workers, their families and their employers. MSDs and the hazards that cause them are very common in the construction industry. 

Although the construction field is not the top field for MSDs in its employees, that title goes to the transportation industry, it is still a very physically demanding field to work in. According to one report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, overexertion (except lifting-lowering) was to blame for 59.1% of work related MSDs.

One way that to help reduce the chances of work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) is stretching. A study done at the University of Oregon looked at participants who took part in workplace stretching programs and found a significant increase in flexibility measurements for all body regions tested after two months of stretching. In the study, the greatest physiological improvements in stretching occurred for back flexibility and shoulder rotation, especially in those who attended more than 13 sessions. So consistency is key and these stretches should be part of a daily routine. 

How Can This Save Money?

Financially, MSDs are causing a strain on workers and employers alike. A study done at the University of Wisconsin showed that there was a total of $85,372 spent on injuries for those who stretched and $235,131 spent on injuries for those who did not stretch. With injuries can come lost time at work, which was looked at in the study and it found that lost work time due to injury was only $45,597 for those who stretched and $147,581 for those who did not stretch. So even if the injuries still happen, they can be significantly less costly to deal with if a stretching regimen is implemented.

So What Can Be Done?

Well, there are many stretches that can be done on the job site to help prepare for the work day. Some areas that should be focused on are the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, core, back and legs. So yes, a quick full body stretch is the best option for a reduced likelihood of injury. After all, this field is physically demanding on the whole body. 

Other options in reducing injury to consider is looking into ergonomic solutions for any tasks possible. These solutions can lower the incidence & severity of MSDs by lowering the physical demand of manual material handling work tasks. There is also changing jobs and tasks that differ in muscles used, working postures, pace of work, amount of repetition, amount of physical exertion required, visual and mental demands and environmental conditions that can be routinely changed between employees to reduce the chances of injury. The main point to remember here is to not over exert any person or part of the body.

Getting Started.

Okay, so stretching helps, let’s give it a shot. What do I do now? Well, it is going to take time for your body to limber up and be able to really stretch, so getting started and sticking with it is key. The following stretches are not an end all answer to the stretches to do, it is just a recommended start. Customize the stretches to the muscles and parts of the body that will be getting the most work that day. If the work is demanding on the legs, focus more on the legs. If the job demands more from the arms and shoulders, focus on those. Be sure to remember to get some stretching done for all the muscles, as it seems safe to assume that the neck, arms, core, back and legs will get used most of the time.

Here is a chart that has a variety of stretches that can be done on the job site.

 

Chart showing stretches that can be done to help prevent musculoskeletal disorder injury in construction related jobs