Controlling physical ill health risks
Construction work involves many physical health hazards. The sections below outline more information about what you need to know and do.
- Key points – construction workers are exposed to a number of physical ill health risks. Be aware of the significance of the ill health effects these cause and the main risk factors behind them.
- Noise – noise is not just a nuisance. It can seriously damage your hearing. Many construction workers suffer from deafness, ringing in their ears and other illness as a result of excessive exposure to noise.
- Vibration – vibrating hand-held power tools or machinery used as a regular part of the job can cause permanent harm. A range of conditions, including vibration white finger, can result from frequent poorly controlled exposure. This is known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
- Manual handling – lifting, carrying and handling can create excessive stresses on areas of the body like the back. This can cause immediate damage to muscles and tendons such as strains and sprains. It can also lead to longer term or recurrent problems known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These can be permanently disabling.
- Repetitive work – repetitive work and carrying out tasks in awkward postures can affect the arms, from fingers to shoulder, and neck. Known as Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs) they are often called repetitive strain injuries or 'RSI'. Symptoms of these MSDs include pain, aching, tingling, weakness, numbing or swelling. They can result in an inability to carry on with the work.