Construction is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States. Some of the most common construction injuries are the result of job demands that push the human body beyond its natural limits. Workers who must often lift, stoop, kneel, twist, grip, stretch, reach overhead, or work in other awkward positions to do a job are at risk of developing a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) such as back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis to name a few. The number of back injuries in U.S. construction was 50% higher than the average for all other U.S. industries in 1999 (CPWR, 2002). In 2005, construction employers reported 35,900 work-related musculoskeletal disorders that resulted in one or more days away from work for injured employees.
Armed with these and other data, we at NIOSH set out to develop simple and inexpensive solutions to make construction tasks easier, more comfortable, and better suited to the needs of the human body. The result: Simple Solutions: Ergonomics for Construction Workers, a new NIOSH publication consisting of “tip sheets” illustrating how different tools or equipment may reduce the risk of injury.