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Manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)

What you need to do

Construction activities that involve manual handling present a significant risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and must be considered fully with action taken on three fronts:

A manual handling assessment must be reviewed if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the manual handling operations.

What you need to know

A musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is an injury that affects the muscles, joints, tendons or spinal discs. Such injuries are most likely to affect the back, shoulders and neck, and legs. Symptoms may include pain, aching, discomfort, numbness, tingling and swelling.

Workers who suffer from MSDs may have a reduced ability to do tasks, as well as pain or discomfort, and the most serious cases can result in permanent disability.

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of MSD.Typical construction activities that can cause injury are:

Who is at risk?

MSDs and back pain occur in many construction trades. Workers commonly affected include bricklayers, scaffolders, groundworkers, electricians and demolition workers, as well as general labourers.

Managing the risks

The first priority is to avoid the hazard. Where this is not reasonably practicable you need to assess risks and take effective action.

The overall process of managing the risks of MSD involves five simple stages:

Top tips for safer manual handling on smaller sites:

Updated 2012-12-12