Sprains and strains account for about a third of injuries in construction. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones. Sprain injuries involve a stretching or a tearing of this tissue. Ankle, knee and wrist injuries account for the majority of sprains. A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon, the
tissue that connects muscles to bones. Back injuries are the most prevalent in regard to strains. Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.
These soft tissue injuries occur frequently, and are painful, disabling and often accompanied by lengthy recovery periods. Maintaining good physical fitness is essential in avoiding sprains and strains. Overweight and out of shape leads to more frequent and severe strain and sprain injuries.
To minimize the chances of sprains, observe the following practices:
- Practice safe housekeeping to keep work areas clear of clutter to help prevent falls
- Stop all strenuous activity on the job when tired or in pain. Notify your supervisors immediately.
- Use caution when working on slippery and wet surfaces. LOOK WHERE YOU ARE WALKING.
- Always wear appropriate and properly fitting footwear for your job. Wear lace-up boots and tie them properly. Replace worn and damaged footwear at least annually.
- Use extra caution when walking across uneven surfaces. You can easily twist an ankle or knee.
- When stepping off ladders and dismounting equipment and trucks, always look where you are placing your feet, before you put your full weight on them. Lookout before you park to check to see if its the best location.
To minimize the possibility of incurring strains, observe the following practices:
- Do not attempt to lift over 40 lbs by yourself. Use the buddy system. Help someone when they ask you to help them.
- DO NOT LIFT OR MOVE A +150 LB JUMPING JACK, TOOLBOX OR GENERATOR BY-YOURSELF.
- Whenever possible, arrange your work areas to minimize the amount of heavy lifting required.
- Before any heavy lifting activity, always warm-up, perform Stretch & Flex exercises.
- Always plan the lift. Know the weight; how far you must carry it and plan your route. When you approach an object on the floor, try to get an idea of how heavy it may be. If the object is too heavy, seek additional help or use a mechanical lifting device such as a forklift, loader, wheelbarrow, dolly or the shop overhead crane
- Lift objects in the “power zone”. This is the area between mid-thigh and mid-chest height. Avoid lifting objects outside this zone. Use your best judgment when lifting heavy objects. Do not attempt to lift an object that exceeds your strength, and do not try to lift objects over 40 lbs by yourself.
- Carry objects close to your body. Lift with your legs and not your back. Lift slowly and smoothly.
- Avoid twisting. Always turn the whole body as one unit when changing direction while carrying a heavy object.
- Move heavy objects by pushing or pulling, whenever possible. Pushing is always preferable.
- Always stand close to the object that you are lifting and be certain that fingers and toes are clear when setting it down.
Follow these helpful rules and you will greatly reduce the chance that you will experience a painful sprain or strain.
“Sprains and strains were the most frequently occurring injuries resulting in lost worktime accidents in 2017.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Annual Report 2017