Builders and contractors are being warned that they must do more to prevent musculoskeletal injuries, as WorkSafe Victoria begin a proactive inspection program.
Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common type of injury amongst construction workers, mostly caused by lifting heavy or awkward loads, or slips and trips while moving around a work site. And they are costly – WorkSafe has accepted more than 6200 injury claims made by construction workers for musculoskeletal disorders, with 60 percent of those workers needing more than four weeks off work.
WorkSafe Victoria construction program manager, Dermot Moody, said the impact of musculoskeletal disorders could be devastating, but that they were mostly preventable.
“A soft tissue injury to a back, shoulder, or wrist can be long-term, debilitating and often career-ending. The frustrating part is that most of these injuries are easily preventable and don’t require a great deal of time or money to reduce the risk.”
WorkSafe Victoria inspectors will be visiting construction sites in the coming weeks to ensure sites are managing the hazards and risks associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Typically, these are soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, or overuse injuries.
Mr Moody has urged all building industry employers and contractors to reassess the effectiveness of their injury prevention strategies.
“Don’t leave safety to chance or so-called ‘common sense’. Be proactive and get appropriate controls in place before an incident occurs rather than after the fact” he said.
Tips for preventing musculoskeletal disorders include:
- Use mechanical load shifting devices such as cranes, material hoists, forklifts and trolleys to move materials around the site
- Ensure load shifting equipment is in good order, including ensuring that tyres on trolleys and wheelbarrows are correctly inflated
- Use job rotation/work variation to reduce exposure to repetitive work, or work that requires significant force
- Ensure walking surfaces are level, dry and free from mud to prevent trips and falls
- Install ramps where surface level changes
- Carry out regular site cleanups and inspections