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Construction workers and back injuries

As a North Carolina construction worker, you likely lift, hold and carry heavy equipment and materials every day at work. Your back consequently suffers strain almost every hour of your work day. This strain builds up over time, often resulting in a musculoskeletal disorder and/or back injury. Fully 25 percent of all work-related injuries are musculoskeletal in nature, and 40 percent of these come from back injuries.

You experience a lot of pain with any type of musculoskeletal disorder because it affects the muscles, tendons and nerves in your back. Often you must take substantial time off work to recover. In 2014, construction workers took an average of eight days off each time they suffered a back injury, accumulating over $46 million in lost wages.

Highest risk jobs

While the risk of a back injury is high for all construction workers, you face increased risk if you work as one of the following:

  • Jackhammer operator
  • Roofer
  • Stonemason or bricklayer
  • Drywall installer
  • Floor or wall tile installer

Not surprisingly, the more years you work, the higher the likelihood that you will injure your back. This is because the “little” injuries you suffer eventually add up and your back cannot properly heal between injuries. This could mean a permanent disability that prevents you from ever working again.

Sobering lifting example

If you have never run across the following bricklayer example of the way in which little back stresses add up over time, you undoubtedly will find it quite enlightening. The basic premise is that a bricklayer lifts a 38-pound brick about 200 times every work day. The cumulative results are as follows:

  • (S)he lifts 3.8 tons every day.
  • (S)he lifts 19 tons every week.
  • (S)he lifts 950 tons every year.

With this incredible amount of weight-lifting, it is no wonder that construction workers like you receive more than their fair share of back injuries. From now on, every time you suffer one at work, however minor, be sure to seek medical treatment. Even more importantly, be sure to stay home from work a sufficient number of days to fully recover.

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