Ergonomics for Construction Workers

Ergonomics for Construction Workers  |  Early Intervention Ergonomics

Simple Solutions • Ergonomics for Construction Workers

Welcome to the NIOSH comprehensive guide, Ergonomics for Construction Workers, tailored for construction workers, unions, supervisors, contractors, safety specialists, and human resources managers – essentially, anyone invested in fostering safer construction sites. In the demanding world of construction, some of the most prevalent injuries stem from tasks that push the human body to its limits. Workers frequently find themselves lifting, stooping, kneeling, twisting, gripping, stretching, reaching overhead, or contorting into awkward positions, putting them at risk of developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). These disorders encompass a range of issues, including back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, as well as sprains and strains.

The mission is to offer practical, cost-effective solutions that can significantly reduce the likelihood of these injuries. We understand the unique challenges faced by construction professionals, and we are committed to making construction tasks more manageable, comfortable, and better aligned with the human body’s capabilities.

Did You Know…?

The construction industry ranks among the most hazardous sectors in the United States.

  • In 1999, the number of back injuries in U.S. construction was 50% higher than the average across all industries (CPWR, 2002).
  • A study (Cook et al, 1996) revealed that construction workers frequently report backaches, shoulder pain, neck discomfort, and hand-related issues.
  • Material handling incidents alone account for 32% of workers’ compensation claims in construction, representing 25% of the overall cost of these claims. The average cost per claim is a staggering $9,240 (CNA, 2000).
  • Musculoskeletal injuries can result in temporary or permanent disabilities, impacting both the worker’s income and the contractor’s profitability.

Things to Remember • Ergonomics for Construction Workers

Within this booklet, you’ll discover practical “Tip Sheets” illustrating how different tools and equipment can mitigate the risk of injury.  Construction sites have tried and tested these solutions. The construction industry’s diversity means that not all solutions will universally apply, but often, one trade can adapt ideas developed for others.

Please note that the information provided herein offers general guidance on how some construction contractors have effectively minimized workers’ exposure to musculoskeletal disorder risk factors. It’s crucial to recognize that the examples cited may not be suitable for all types of construction work. Furthermore, while utilizing the tools and equipment outlined in this booklet can certainly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, it does not guarantee their prevention. The information shared here does not introduce new obligations or establish specific standards or guidelines.

The overarching aim of Ergonomics for Construction Workers is to present solutions that are not only effective but also cost-efficient. While some remedies may exceed a $1,000 budget, potentially posing challenges for certain contractors, we firmly believe that successful implementation will lead to a rapid return on investment in many cases.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Always consult with an ergonomics expert before making significant changes to your workspace setup.

More Tools & Resources from Peak Ergonomics
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Outdoor & Indoor Heat-Related Hazards

Outdoor & Indoor Heat-Related Hazards

OSHA’s “Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards” aims to protect workers from the dangers of heat illness. With rising temperatures posing significant risks, this program focuses on promoting safe working conditions. By addressing both outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards, OSHA aims to prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses. The NEP emphasizes the need for implementation of effective heat illness prevention programs. In addition these programs provide training to workers, and establish protocols for responding to heat-related emergencies. By following OSHA guidelines, employers can ensure the well-being and safety of their employees in environments affected by outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards.

Details of the National Emphasis Program

OSHA: National Emphasis Program – Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a National Emphasis Program to protect millions of workers from heat illness and injuries.  As part of the program, OSHA will proactively initiate inspections in over 70 high-risk industries in indoor and outdoor work settings when the National Weather Service has issued a heat warning or advisory for a local area. On days when the heat index is 80oF or higher, OSHA inspectors and compliance assistance specialists will engage in proactive outreach and technical assistance to help stakeholders keep workers safe on the job. Inspectors will look for and address heat hazards during inspections, regardless of whether the industry is targeted in the NEP.

Employers can ensure the well-being and safety of their employees in environments affected by outdoor and indoor heat-related hazards.

Outreach to Unions & Employers

OSHA’s area offices will engage in outreach to unions, employers in target industries and other organizations committed to advancing protections for underserved workers. The agency’s On-Site Consultation Program, a free and confidential health and safety consulting program for small- and medium-sized businesses, will assist employers in developing strategic approaches for addressing heat-related illnesses and injuries in workplaces.

In addition, the agency will hold a public stakeholder meeting on May 3, 2022, to discuss OSHA’s ongoing activities to protect workers from heat-related hazards, including the Heat Illness Prevention Campaign, compliance assistance activities and enforcement efforts. You can register for the event here.

For more information, see the Press Release and OSHA’s webpage on working in outdoor and indoor heat environments. Please share this information with your stakeholders, as appropriate.

Healthy Employees ARE the Bottom Line! – Learn More!

Fatal Four Hazard Prevention

Fatal Four Hazard Prevention  |  Early Intervention Ergonomics

Fatal four hazard prevention focuses on raising awareness in the recognition, evaluation, and control of these hazards.

Focus Four Toolbox Talks (OSHA Campaign)

Safety is paramount in the construction industry, where workers face numerous risks on a daily basis. To combat the most common and preventable causes of construction fatalities, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched its annual Focus Four Campaign in 2022. This comprehensive initiative aims to raise awareness and implement proactive measures for Fatal Four Hazard Prevention in construction. In this article, we’ll delve into the Fatal Four, OSHA’s Focus Four Campaign, and the vital steps taken to protect construction workers.

1. Understanding the Fatal Four Hazards

The Fatal Four hazards are responsible for a significant number of construction worker fatalities each year. These hazards include falls, electrocutions, struck-by incidents, and caught-in/between accidents. According to OSHA, these four categories account for more than 60% of all construction worker deaths. The staggering toll underscores the critical importance of addressing these risks head-on.

2. The Focus Four Campaign

Launched annually by OSHA, the Focus Four Campaign is a year-long endeavor designed to reduce fatalities in the construction industry. The campaign focuses on raising awareness, providing resources, and enhancing compliance through targeted training and outreach efforts. By equipping employers and workers with the knowledge and tools they need, OSHA strives to prevent needless tragedies.

3. Fall Prevention – Protecting Workers at Heights

Falls remain the leading cause of construction fatalities, making fall prevention a core component of OSHA’s campaign. The agency stresses the implementation of proper fall protection systems, such as guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Regular safety inspections, employee training, and clear signage play pivotal roles in keeping workers safe while working at heights.

4. Electrocution Prevention – Staying Clear of Electrical Hazards

Electrocutions are the second leading cause of construction-related deaths. To combat this hazard, OSHA advocates for stringent electrical safety standards. This includes using Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), proper lockout/tagout procedures, and regular equipment maintenance. Workers should also be trained to identify and avoid electrical hazards, promoting a culture of safety on construction sites.

5. Struck-By Incidents – Minimizing Contact with Objects

Struck-by incidents, such as being hit by falling debris or vehicles, account for a significant number of construction fatalities. OSHA encourages the use of proper protective equipment, such as hard hats and high-visibility clothing. Additionally, the implementation of traffic control measures, clear communication protocols, and diligent inspection of equipment can significantly reduce the risk of struck-by accidents.

6. Caught-In/Between Hazards – Ensuring Proper Safety Measures

Caught-in/between hazards occur when a worker is trapped between two objects or caught in machinery. To address this hazard, OSHA emphasizes the importance of machine guarding, trench safety, and proper use of heavy equipment. Employers should provide comprehensive training and strictly enforce safety guidelines to mitigate caught-in/between incidents.

7. Training and Education

OSHA’s Focus Four Campaign places a strong emphasis on education and training. By offering resources, webinars, and on-site consultation programs, OSHA helps employers and workers better understand the Fatal Four hazards and implement effective preventive measures. Properly trained workers are more likely to recognize potential dangers and respond appropriately, reducing the likelihood of accidents.

Things to Remember

The construction industry is vital to our society’s growth, but it comes with inherent risks that must be addressed. OSHA’s 2022 Focus Four Campaign has taken a proactive stance in preventing the Fatal Four hazards, significantly reducing construction-related fatalities. By focusing on fall prevention, electrocution protection, struck-by incident minimization, and caught-in/between hazard mitigation, OSHA’s campaign has fostered a culture of safety within the industry.

Construction employers and workers must remain committed to adhering to safety protocols, leveraging OSHA’s resources, and investing in comprehensive training. Together, we can continue to make the construction sites safer places, ensuring that every worker returns home safely at the end of each day. Let’s build not only our structures but also a safer future for all involved in the construction industry.

Fatal Four Hazard Prevention Tools & Resources: (English & Spanish) (varied topics)

Other attachments include

Struck By (changing bales): Fatal Facts (OSHA 3616 – 2012) (English: PDF)

Work Zone Traffic Safety Fact Sheet (2005) (English: PDF)

Work Zone Traffic Safety QuickCard™ (English: PDF) & (Spanish: PDF)

Download links for Focus Four Toolbox Talks:















More Tools & Resources from Peak Ergonomics
Contact Us About Reducing Workplace Injuries
Healthy Employees are the Bottom Line!