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Commercial Flooring News

Back Ache Costs Billions

AS WINTER approaches appeals are being made to workers, especially those in construction trades, including floorlayers, to take care of your backs. Musculoskeletal disorders, specifically back problems, are the UK’s most common type of work-related injury.
The latest figures from HSE shows that work-related ill health or injury means a loss to the British economy of 27 million working days a year. And the biggest cause of workplace injury is manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders. And there is a massive economic cost to Britain. Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) are estimated to cost society around £14bn.
Floorlayers are one of the trades most prone to back injury. The law requires employers to take measures to properly manage manual handling tasks that involve a risk of injury. Where possible they need to make an assessment of individual manual handling tasks and take steps to reduce the risk of injury.
Floorlayers and others who carry out the manual handling must be provided with information on the weight of each load, and the heaviest side of any load whose centre of gravity is not positioned centrally.
A manual handling assessment must be reviewed if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the manual handling operations.
Musculoskeletal injuries are common in the construction industry. They typically arise from work that involves lifting, lowering and carrying heavy materials; pushing and pulling objects and equipment; bending and twisting; repetitive movements; working too long without breaks; and awkward working positions or restricted space. All of the above apply to to the average floorlayer at one time or another.
The injuries are often caused by a combination of the work itself (eg the weight of a load or the force that needs to be applied); the work environment, including weather conditions; and a worker’s physical capability.
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.
But handling heavy objects is not the only cause of injury. Repetitive tasks (eg bricklaying) can also cause MSD. Other high risk tasks include block laying, handling pipework, laying kerbs and paving slabs, moving and installing plasterboard and installing mechanical and electrical equipment at height.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at