Teach construction workers about smart lifting and safe movement

In the construction sector, the lifting and moving of heavy loads cannot be avoided. But all too often, these activities lead to physical health problems. In 2020, no less than 52% of construction workers suffered from back problems. Protect your employees by improving their environment and working methods with the tips below. 

Ergonomic strain is one of the most common causes of absenteeism and musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers. Now that Belgian employees are required to work longer, it is important to pay more attention to the physical strain of their job. An integrated prevention policy can reduce the number of employees with back pain by 20%. Therefore, why not teach your employees smart lifting and safe movement in the workplace. Here are some concrete tips:

  • Analyse the physical workload: Find out which tasks are physically demanding by carrying out an ergonomics risk analysis.
  • Optimise the work environment:
  1. Adjust the work organisation by increasing the efficiency of the work process. For example, avoid unnecessary manual handling of loads.
  2. Set up the workplace as ergonomically as possible. Take the correct working height, reach height, reach distance and free space for movement into account.
  3. Provide the necessary resources. 
  • Train employees to work (more) ergonomically: Teach workers practical lifting techniques, and give them posture and movement tips that respond to their specific working conditions. This will help them minimise burdensome working methods in order to prevent complaints.

Smart lifting: more than one standard lifting technique

Various studies have shown that there is not one lifting technique that offers the best ergonomic solution for every employee. Smart lifting is more involved than simply applying the “correct standard lifting technique”. Workers generally know the basic principles, but there are a variety of methods and movements that are good for the back.

In addition, the preferred style of lifting is influenced by the curvature of the spine, which is different for each individual. This is why employees use a variety of techniques that they find more comfortable and efficient.

In addition to a taking a personal approach, it is important for employees to gradually get used to specific forms of load and weights. With enough practise, they will build up their strength and condition, which will only be of benefit to their back.

Plan ergonomic training during the winter months

Winter is the ideal period for the construction sector to carry out further training. You can train workers – with financial support from the government – from 1 December to 31 March. For example, construction professionals can refresh their knowledge or acquire new competences during a period of temporary unemployment caused by bad weather. 

In the “Lifting heavy objects and preventing (back) aches and pains” training, construction workers learn how to apply elementary basic principles and postures in real work situations while paying attention to personal body posture and individual points of attention.

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