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NIOSH Booklet Offers Safe Material Handling Practices for Residential Construction Workers

Sept. 4, 2013
"Home building is physically demanding work, and manual material handling may be the most difficult part of the job," NIOSH explains.

Construction workers have a reputation for being tough guys (and gals). But even tough guys need to take precautions against soft-tissue injuries.

"Home building is physically demanding work, and manual material handling may be the most difficult part of the job," NIOSH explains in a new safety booklet for residential construction workers.

"Manual material handling includes all of the tasks that require you to lift, lower, push, pull, hold or carry materials. These activities increase the risk of painful strains and sprains and more serious soft-tissue injuries."

Common with manual material handling, soft-tissue injuries can cause everyday discomfort and pain, and even lead to disability. They can take months or years to repair – if they ever do.

"Soft-tissue injuries are different than broken bones, bruises or punctures," NIOSH explains in a new safety booklet for homebuilders. "They are injuries of the muscles, discs, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and nerves."

In NIOSH's new booklet, the agency describes a number of safe work practices to help residential construction workers avoid manual material handling injuries. Among them:

  • Avoid jerky movements or twisting your back when picking up objects.
  • Use mechanical lifting equipment to eliminate unnecessary manual lifting.
  • Place materials close to where they are needed.
  • Take short breaks to rest your body.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening exercises before work or during breaks.

The booklet, titled "Simple Solutions for Home Building Workers: A Basic Guide for Preventing Manual Material Handling Injuries," notes that workers should never lift and carry more than 50 pounds alone.

"Get help from co-workers," the booklet suggests.


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