Working in the construction industry as an asphalt paving contractor, you are highly vulnerable to the dangers posed by accident and injury.

However, not all pains come about as a result of an accident. Sometimes they are down to a repetitive strain or over exertion.

The leading cause of disability in the world is lower back pain and neck pains are not far behind at number four.

So how do you as an asphalt paving company boss help your crew to avoid becoming a statistic?

THE TRIGGER FOR PAIN

Activities which act as a catalyst for pain include things such as;

Pulling and pushing, vibrations, staying in the same position too long, twisting and bending the body unevenly. But the prize for the most likely cause of back problems goes to lifting.

Mistakes made when lifting are the most common reason for back problems at work and nowhere is this truer than when working as an asphalt paving contractor.

Other factors which may cause sprains and strains are complications such as the height that the work is being undertaken at, the state of the floor and any obstructions in the work place, the techniques used for lifting, overloading oneself, the wearing of toolbelts and the temperature of the working environment.

MINIMIZE DANGERS

Fortunately, there are some practices which can reduce the risk of injury whilst building the nation’s roads.

These range from taking frequent rest breaks, better posture, the right clothing, better techniques and education.

Here are some tips on how to lower those risks.

SAFE LIFTING

Lift with your back straight and in a relaxed posture.

Make sure you are facing the thing that is being lifted.

Keep your hips apart and knees bent.

Keep the weight close to the body and don’t twist.

Do not bend your waist, this pressures your lower back.

Ensure the weight to be lifted has been secured carefully before you try and pick it up.

Take care setting down, it can cause as much injury as picking up can do.

Don’t put your arms ahead of you, your elbows should be bent and arms should be side to side.

Don’t attempt to lift a weight heavier than 51 pounds.

Never reach more than ten inches away to pick something up.

If something is too big, don’t be tempted to try and lift it up. Either get help or split the load into two.

Use equipment and aids to help lifting such as cushioned grips and carts.

Don’t store materials at a height which is difficult to lift from.

WARMING UP

Consider giving time over for a few warm up exercises at the start of every day.

These simple stretches can help the body limber up for the day ahead and reduce straining further down the line.

Exercises may also be used to help to unwind at the end of a day and to decrease tension in the muscles.


EXERCISES

Exercises to practice either within the workplace or at home include the simple neck stretch, building up of core muscles, the one leg stand, the reverse shoulder shrug, the back stretch, the pelvic tilt, the shoulder and the back upper arm stretch.

BLOWING HOT AND COLD

The temperature of the workplace is another consideration which can exacerbate back injury.

Working in cold conditions can be an occupational hazard for construction workers, but it is one which can lead to a worsening of lower back conditions.

Where possible, take care to dress appropriately and keep as warm as you and your crew can do.

The use of heat to ease away muscle tensions and pains may also assist in the fight against lower back pain.

This could be as simple as enjoying a warm bath after work.

For a full list of all the exercises which can help with back pain – both in a preventative way and also to help ease tension – follow the links to download our fact sheet.