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Soft tissue injuries in the construction industry

Work-related soft tissue injuries affect the body's muscles, tendons, discs, nerves, ligaments and cartilage. Examples of these types of injuries include back issues like strain and, more seriously, herniated discs. Soft tissue injuries can also occur in the upper body affecting the neck, the shoulders and other areas of the body. Unfortunately, soft tissue injuries represent a significant risk to construction workers in Pennsylvania, often causing severe pain or even long-term disability.

Making construction work safer for employees is a major goal across Pennsylvania job sites. OSHA does its part by providing information to help prevent injuries to the body's soft tissue. One recommendation by OSHA concerns utilizing safe work practices to reduce the risk of incurring these injuries. Employing safe work practices includes meticulous planning about where work materials are kept onsite.

OSHA recommends keeping necessary materials close to the areas where they will be utilized. Keeping these materials at least some distance off of the ground can also reduce injuries by minimizing the amount of bending and lifting employees must perform.

Making sure workers understand safe carrying and lifting strategies helps reduce soft tissue injuries as well. Here are some helpful tips:

-- Carry no more than 50 pounds-- Bend knees when lifting-- Hold materials close to the body when lifting and carrying-- Avoid holding heavy materials over the head-- Never support equipment or materials with the head-- Take short breaks after handling heavy loads-- Always use equipment and tools in the proper manner

While these tips and more can minimize soft tissue injuries construction workers experience, they will not prevent them altogether. Pennsylvania construction workers who have already suffered work-related injuries might consider consulting with a workers' compensation attorney to explore the legal options at their disposal.

Source: CDC.gov, "A Basic Guide for Preventing Manual Material Handling Injuries," accessed Aug. 06, 2015

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