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Musculo-skeletal disorders

Construction activities that involve manual handling present a significant risk of Musculo-Skeletal Disorders (MSDs).

A MSD is an injury that affects the muscles, joints, tendons or spinal discs.

Such injuries are most likely to affect the back, shoulders and neck, and legs. 

Symptoms may include pain, aching, discomfort, numbness, tingling and swelling. 

Construction workers suffering from MSD have a reduced ability to do tasks, as well as pain or discomfort; serious cases can result in permanent disability. 

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of MSDs. 

There are no absolute safe weights to lift/move by hand. The guidelines provide advice on lifting weights at various horizontal and vertical locations from the body.

It is worth noting that a conventional concrete kerb weighs almost 70kg (when dry) compared with a plastic krb that weighs about 6kg (91% less weight). 

Typical construction activities that cause injury
  • Manual handling - from lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying;
  • Repetitive tasks - handling heavy objects is not the only cause of injury. Harm can also result from repetitive tasks even if with light loads or where the person's body position is less than ideal such as tying reinforcing steel bars;
  • Other high risk tasks are block laying, laying kerbs and paving slabs, moving and installing mechanical and electrical equipment at height.  
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

As amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, provide more information on employer requirements. Find out more. 

HSE guidance on Musculo-skeletal disorders

Click view to find out more. 


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