Safety at the Forefront: Ergonomics in Concrete Work.

Protective eyewear, steel toe boots, hard hats and similar PPE play an important role in keeping concrete workers safe on the job. Still, there are other precautions to consider, too. Ergonomics, or the way people use the equipment and furniture around them, can directly impact how quickly team members become fatigued — and shape their future health.

The University of California, Riverside notes that physical stressors such as exposure to vibration, forceful exertion or awkward postures can lead to pain, injury and, in extreme cases, disability. The good news is, with a bit of forethought and proper body positioning, crews can get the job done and stay protected along the way. Here, General Chipping has brought together a range of useful tips to keep in mind on the jobsite.

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects: For items weighing more than 51 pounds or so, use hand trucks or forklifts. Consider asking a coworker for help if necessary.
  • Lift with the legs: Placing too much strain on the back can have lasting effects.
  • Don’t twist into awkward positions: Keep your back as straight as you can. If you must turn while carrying an object, take small steps until you are facing the proper direction.
  • Keep work areas clean: Electrical cords, tools and other items strewn across the ground create tripping hazards.

Here are a few potential symptoms of ergonomic injuries (also known as repetitive motion injuries) as described by the University of California, Riverside:

  • Pain in the fingers, wrists or other areas
  • Tingling or numbness, particularly in the hands or fingers
  • Swelling, inflammation or joint stiffness
  • Loss of muscle function or weakness
  • Extremities turning white or feeling unusually cold
  • General feeling of muscle tightness, cramping or discomfort
  • Clumsiness or loss of coordination
  • Loss of range of motion

Safety should always come first on the job. If you or a team member believe your company’s practices place the crew at risk of injury, make the issue known to a manager. Likewise, if you believe an injury might have already formed, seek medical attention immediately.

Sources: Ace Cutting Equipment & Supply, OSHA, University of California, Riverside


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