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Why construction workers are so prone to back injuries

If you work construction in California, no one needs to tell you that your back takes a constant beating due to the work you must perform. All that lifting, carrying and moving you do of heavy equipment and materials on a daily basis can and does add up over time. It likely produces a series of relatively minor strains and sprains that likewise add up over time until you can wind up with a debilitating injury and/or a chronic back pain condition.

While all construction workers run the risk of sustaining back injuries, your risk increases exponentially if your particular job is one of the following:

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

“Hidden” weight

Since you are so used to lifting the things you constantly lift, you likely have never given any thought to the cumulative weight you actually lift. For instance, suppose you work as a bricklayer who lifts a 38-pound brick upwards of 200 times each day. It probably will shock you to learn that the total amount of weight you lift breaks out as follows:

  • 3.8 tons per day
  • 19 tons per week
  • 950 tons per year

If you multiply this by the number of years you have been on the job, you can easily understand why construction workers like you suffer more back injuries than workers in any other occupation. To prevent, or at least minimize, the number of injuries you face, your best strategy is to use a lift, hoist or dolly any time you need to lift or move something that weighs 50 pounds or more. If you absolutely must lift it, try to find a co-worker to help you bear the load. If nothing else, always remember to lift with your knees, not with your back.

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