Performing the same tasks over and over is expected in the construction industry. Even if you do not give it much thought, repetitive actions that use the same muscles and joints can cause minor but permanent damage to your body over time. These are known as repetitive strain injuries, and they can disrupt your life and stop you from working.
It is normal for tendons and muscles to break down after executing physically demanding tasks. With enough rest and sleep, the body can recover. However, the tendons may suffer permanent damage if you need to perform those tasks for hours every day without sufficient breaks.
Repetitive strain injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and Raynaud’s syndrome. These injuries result from doing a combination of different types of motions required in construction, not just one.
However, there are some motions and actions common among all construction jobs that can trigger a repetitive strain injury, such as:
- Pushing, pulling, gripping, or lifting
- Holding uncomfortable positions for a long time
- Moving quickly to complete specific tasks
- Twisting the body to reach for materials or tools
Prolonged exposure to vibrations from heavy machinery such as jackhammers or drills and a lack of enough rest periods can also cause repetitive strain injuries. Workers can avoid or treat a repetitive strain injury by having surgery, avoiding the activity that caused it, or taking enough time off to allow the body to heal.
It is common for employees to ignore their pain until the damage can no longer be repaired. If you suffer permanent damage and your company cannot make adjustments, or you cannot avoid the actions that caused your injury, you may have to look for a different job.
Companies may overlook repetitive strain injuries since other medical conditions are thought to be more severe. However, they should not be ignored because they can have long-term repercussions on the body and prevent you from working. If you develop a repetitive strain injury at work and it starts affecting your ability to do your job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.