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Construction manual handling:
Blocks and masonry units

Blocks and other masonry units are common construction products. Regularly handling heavy units can present significant risks of developing musculoskeletal problems. This page tells you how to control this risk and why. You also need to be aware of the general information on manual handling.

What you must do

Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to the following things:

Assess

Identify and assess: Lifting and handling blocks is a highly repetitive task. It can also involve twisting, stooping or reaching upwards. The risk of injury increases with the weight of the block and when laying above shoulder / below knee height. Also consider job demands or time pressure. This may mean workers do not have enough rest / recovery time. Workers are particularly at risk if they are repetitively handling blocks heavier than 20 kg. Follow the control steps below.

Control

Follow the general precautions for controlling lifting and carrying risks. In addition, you should also consider the issues below.

Prevent: Think about limiting the risks before work starts by:

Control: Even if you minimise some of the risks this way, you are still likely to have to lay blocks. Control the risk by following the information below.

Review

Supervise: Check site working practices to ensure that the correct controls are being used. Keep routes free of obstructions to prevent slips and trips.

What you should know

MSD injuries from handling heavy concrete and stone block products do not usually occur because of a ‘one-off’ lift. The injuries usually arise from ongoing repetition of the work and posture during the lifting. These factors can create excessive stresses and strains on the body, which can cause damage to muscles and tendons. Workers are particularly at risk if they are repetitively handling blocks heavier than 20 kg.

Updated 2015-05-19