Constructing Better Health News Updates

Top tips for preventing back problems


Musculoskeletal injuries cost the UK economy an estimated £5.5 billion per year and most of this occurs in the construction industry.

By far the most common musculoskeletal disorder is back pain but it can also affect the neck, shoulders and legs. Unless spotted and dealt with effectively, an ache or discomfort can turn into a long-term or ‘chronic' injury.

The biggest cause of injury is manual handling, which includes lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. However, MSDs can also result from doing a task repetitively, even if the load is relatively light, such as bricklaying.

Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, employers are required to decide whether and how they can avoid manual tasks that involve a risk of injury.

Use the following three steps to help prevent and minimise the risk of musculoskeletal injuries:


Where possible, employers should avoid the need for hazardous manual handling. Could materials be delivered to the point of use rather than being carried, pushed or pulled from the site entrance?


Where manual handling is unavoidable, then can it be moved mechanically by using a handling aid such as a pallet truck, electric or hand powered hoist, or a conveyor?


If you have to use manual handling, then ensure your workers use good techniques:

• bend your knees, not your back
• split the load into smaller/lighter loads wherever possible
• make sure your body is warm before you lift anything as your body is more prone to injury when your muscles are  cold.

To find out more

For further guidance and free information leaflets on musculoskeletal disorders, visit the ‘health topics’ section on our website -


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