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Why construction workers suffer back injuries

As a New Jersey construction worker, you know that you must constantly lift, carry and hold heavy construction materials. What you may not realize is that all this heavy lifting puts an enormous strain on your back, even when you use the best work practices to minimize your strain and effort.

It should come as no surprise to you that construction workers such as you face a high risk of suffering a back injury at work. In fact, construction worker musculoskeletal disorders account for 25 percent of all on-the-job injuries, with back injuries making up 40 percent of them

A musculoskeletal disorder is a very painful condition that affects your joints, nerves, muscles and/or tendons, mainly in your back. It may take you several days or weeks to recover. In 2014, construction workers spent eight days on average recovering from back injuries; this translated into over $46 million in lost wages.

Who is most at risk?

No matter what kind of construction job(s) you do, you face substantial risk of sustaining an on-the-job back injury. However, you are at particularly high risk if you engage in one of the following occupations:

  • Jackhammer operator
  • Roofer
  • Drywall installer
  • Floor or wall tile installer
  • Bricklayer or stonemason

The main problem is that the more years you work, the more likely it is that you will suffer repeated injuries. Even if you think you fully recovered before returning to work, this may not be so. In addition, your continued heavy lifting has a cumulative negative effect on your back. Eventually the “little” stresses and strains you put on your body each day add up and could result in your permanent disability.

A bricklayer example

If you are a bricklayer, for example, you think nothing about constantly lifting bricks that likely weigh a maximum of 38 pounds each. However, remember that you lift one approximately 200 times each working day. The weight you actually lift over time becomes quite incredible. Consider the following:

  • You lift 3.8 tons – the weight of a truck or SUV – each day.
  • You lift 19 tons – the weight of a Greyhound bus – each week.
  • You lift 950 tons – the weight of a drilling rig – each year.

Given such extraordinary stress, strain and pressure on your back, it is no wonder that construction workers are prone to back injuries that result in substantial medical bills and possible permanent disability. You may wish to explore the possibility of filing a workers' compensation claim against your employer.

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