Describe about the Risk Management of Musculoskeletal Disorders for Construction Industry.
Risk management of MSDs is one of the major concerns for industries within Australia as they continue facing a high number of compensation claims from affected workers. The construction industry is one of the sectors that face a high number of MSD cases due to the physical nature of the tasks carried out by workers. The Australian government has put in place a number of strategies to ensure that there are both long term and short term measures, which will effectively lower the cases of MSDs to internationally accepted standards. These strategies are included in the Australian Work Safety and Health Strategy for 2012-2022, and consist of set targets to be achieved by the end of the period. These, targets include plans to reduce rates of compensation claims related to injury fatalities and MSDs. This report will also include a literature review on the risk management of MSDs and a review of the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 standard framework, principles and procedures for proper risk management. The report will further provide recommendations on measures for management of MSDs in in the construction industry.
A Review The Safe Work Australia 2012-22 Strategy: Performance Targets For Musculoskeletal Disorders
The Safe Work Australia 2012-22 Strategy involves the plans set out to ensure that by the end of 2022, there will be lower incidences of deaths, injuries and illnesses related to work processes within Australia and its entire territory. This is encompassed in the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022. The strategy was arrived at after reviewing the National OHS Strategy as a result of the need to give sustainable attention on improving key areas in occupational health. Despite the improvements in the work health and safety sector, data on OHS by 2012 showed that averagely above 250 workers in Australian territories died from injuries sustained while at work annually. An estimate of above 2000 workers died as a result of work-related illness annually. Between the year 2009 and 2010, a total of 640 000 workers had been to have experienced work-related injuries and/or illness. Within the same period, about 303 000 workers got compensated for one or more injury/ illness. The total cost of these workplace injury and illnesses to the economy of Australia during the financial year (2008-2009), had been $60.6 billion. The cost represented a whole 4.8% of the GDP of Australia. Economic costs brought about by the work-related injuries, illness and also death had been significantly borne by workers, families, the community and the employers. In this regard, the strategy aims at promoting a work environment that is safe and productive. Simply referred to as the Australian Strategy, it is a policy that that comprises of 4 major expected outcomes;
- Reduced incidences of deaths, injuries and illnesses related to work processes
- Reduced hazard and/or risk exposure among workers
- Improved control of hazards
- Improved health and safety infrastructure within different workplaces in all sectors of the country.
Specific Targets of the Australian Strategy
Apart from the above targeted outcomes, the Australian strategy focuses on three main specific targets to be achieved at the end of the year 2022. First, the strategy targets to attain above 20% reduction in injury-related fatalities to the workers in all workplaces. This target was based on a comparison between the Australian fatality rates due to injuries between the year 2008 and 2010, and that of the best performing countries including UK, Sweden and Switzerland. According to the 3-year average, the Australian fatality rate was at 2.5 fatalities/100 000 laborers. The best performing countries mentioned had below 2.0 fatalities/100000 laborers. Therefore, there is need to reduce further, the fatalities as a result of injuries by 20% in order to hit below 2.0 fatalities/100000 laborers.
Secondly, the strategy targets to achieve above 30% rates in the reduction of serious compensation claims incidence for compensation among workers. This target is based on the steady reduction of serious compensation-claim-incidence among workers as from the year 2009 to 2012. The strategy indicates that suppose such as trend in maintained for the rest of the period, then this rate could be brought to 7.9 compensation claims/1000 workers by the year 2022. This means that 33% reduction of the serious claims will have been achieved.
Thirdly, the Australian strategy aims at attaining beyond 30% reduction in serious compensation claim incidences among workers particularly as a result of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This target was also based on the fact that if the then trend in 2012 could be maintained in regard to reducing compensation claims related to MSDs, then by 2022, the achieved levels could be 32% lesser than the initial period. Therefore, by 2022, the rate of compensation claim incidence related to MSDs will be 32% less than during the periods between 2009-2010 and 2011–2012. This implies that incidence rate of claims for compensation will be 4.7 claims/ 1000 workers in 2022. The major concern is that the link between increased preventive action on safety and health and lower work-related body injuries may not likely follow this kind of consistent decline pattern in the long run. This means that 30% reduction in compensations claims on MSD-related condition could be challenging to attain.
Dale et al (2014)
The authors compare musculoskeletal disorders claims between floor layers and those among the general population of employees. In their study they define MSDS as disorders and/or injuries which usually affect normal body movement among people through interfering with the functioning of the musculoskeletal system. In this journal, the different components of the musculoskeletal system affected by these disorders include the muscles, discs of the spine, ligaments, blood vessels and the nerves. MSDs include tendonitis, digital neuritis, epicondylitis, the degenerative disc diseases, herniated and/or ruptured discs, sprained ligament, the carpal tunnel syndrome, the mechanical back syndrome among others. The authors indicate that there are higher numbers of reported cases of MSDs among floor layers than among other general working employees.
Salem et al, (2008)
These researchers focused on how work compatibility influences rates of musculoskeletal disorders within the construction industry. In the journal, the researchers feature different work related risk factors to MSDs, a par from incompatibility of work. The journal emphasizes that the design of any given work place like in the construction industry, determines the development and extent of the MSDs among the workers. Whenever workers commit themselves and/or are forced to carry out tasks that are beyond their physical capabilities with unsafe tools, they most often risk injuries and disease conditions to their musculoskeletal system. Any evaluations that can be done objectively on such a workstation mostly indicate that the tasks carried out are beyond the workers’ capabilities and are incompatible.
Mathew, L. (2014)
Mathew (2014) examines how Stress influences MSDs among workers in the Indian construction industries in Kerala. The author indicates that job stress in Construction Company leading to MSDs could be as a result of high task repetition. A lot of work in the construction industry for instance, involves a lot of cycles that workers have to make. These repetitive tasks are carried out frequently and usually are based on fixed-period production targets. The work process could be hourly and/or daily and thus, workers have to ensure that they make the high number of rounds to complete a particular task. This brings about stress both physically and emotionally. Jobs can be classified as highly repetitive if each cycle takes less than 30 seconds. High repetition accompanied with other exposure risks like awkward postures result in the development of MSDs among workers.
Liao & Chiang (2016)
These researchers focused on ways of reducing occupational injuries that result from in-attentional blindness within the different areas of the construction industry. They indicate that forceful exertions which form part of ergonomic risk factors could result from in-attention among workers. A lot of tasks involve heavy loads and therefore a high force is exerted on the body. In order to successfully lift and move these loads workers’ muscle effort increases in order to withstand the force. The resultant fatigue may persist and end up as musculoskeletal disorder. Sustained awkward postures which are also repetitive exert a lot of force on the body joints of workers while overloading the body muscles, ligaments and tendons within the joint under use. Anatomically, body joints are most effective and efficient when operating within the mid-range joint motion. In the construction industry, the casual workers make a lot of high force cycles which work the joints beyond this mid-range in cases where workers do not give maximum attention to safety measures. As a result, they increase the risk of sustaining musculoskeletal disorders around the affected joints.
Konda et al (2016)
The three authors focused on highlighting fatal traumatic injuries of the brain within the construction industry as from the year 2003 to 2010. These researchers bring out some of the individual factors that lead to such MSD cases. One of the individual-based risk factor to acquiring MSDs includes poor work practices among workers especially in the construction and mining industries. Individual workers employ a poor work practice and lifting techniques which introduce risks to the development of MSDs such concussions due to falling objectives that hit the head. The practices bring about preventable stress on body parts such as the head, which increases fatigue in continuous cycles without recovery time.
Entzel et al (2007)
The journal establishes the best practices that can be used to prevent MSDs in masonry. In the journal, the authors indicate that poor general health habits among workers are part of individual risk factors leading to MSDs. These habits include smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol, obesity among other unhealthy habits. These habits predispose the affected workers to high possibility of awkward posture and compulsive repeated motions making them to easily acquire musculoskeletal injuries. Inadequate rest and recovery accumulates fatigue among workers. Accumulated fatigue brings about a loss of balance in the musculoskeletal system and therefore, little or lack of sufficient time to recover brings about more serious musculoskeletal injuries especially in the construction industry. These practices include use of PPEs, appropriate posture and using of tools the right way for the right purpose.
Iles et al (2012)
The authors focused on the economic analysis of MSD costs by studying how to reduce compensation costs of MSDs in Australia through proper risk management. Some of the significant risk factors that led to MSDs among others included poor nutrition, poor physical fitness and dehydration. Extreme cases include where malnourished workers have to work on a long term basis at a given industry. Their bodies have insufficient nutritional capacity to enable recovery and healing as well as dehydrated. There is thus little energy to twist and make repetitive joint and muscular movements leading to MSDs. These kinds of workers risk chronic diseases apart from the high possibility of developing musculoskeletal injuries. The authors propose appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and workers’ health and safety programs that are effective.
Gibbons, L. (2014)
This journal provides a number of ways on the management of minor MSDs. According to Gibbons, the health and safety program aiming at controlling and preventing risk factors related to MSDs must address a number of issues. First, workers must be advised to avoid unsafe lifting practices, unsafe pushes & pulls on materials. There is need to remove any obstructive materials on access routes where manual workers are engaged. Good housekeeping including proper storage of materials should be encouraged as a safety practice while ensuring that ladders are used correctly.
Rwamamara et al (2010)
These authors focused on establishing evidence?based preventive measures against MSDs in the construction industry. According to the journal, construction companies should insist on semi-skilled workers with however, good training in handling the tasks available. There is also a further need for proper vehicle maintenance among other machinery and/or equipment to reduce on the physical demand of their operation. Lastly, workers must be instructed strictly to use particular equipment appropriately. This can reduce the risk of obtaining any related MSDs in the workplace.
Village & Ostry (2010)
The journal provides an assessment of attitudes, beliefs and the readiness towards MSD prevention among workers in the construction industry. The journal recommends positive attitude towards Safety and Health Programs among employers and employees. Further, it emphasizes the need for follow-up on the worker’s participation, supervisory advice, engineering control measures and all structures put in place within the workplace health and safety program, targeting the prevention and management of MSDs among workers. The health and safety program and its implementation must however be in compliance with the Australian occupational health and safety regulations.
Risk Management Of Msds
Using the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard in Risk Management of MSDs
The AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard includes principles and guidelines that should be considered in the development of risk management frameworks and/or programs in different institutions within the Australian territories. In this regard, the standard should be adopted by construction companies in the efforts reduction of MSDs in order to achieve the Australia Work Safety and Health Strategy of 2012-22. The following approaches include the recommended approaches towards the risk management of MSDs among workers in the construction industry within Australia. The recommendations encompass the principles, framework and procedures set out in the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 standard.
Principles of Risk Management
According to the principles of risk management outlined in the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard first, there is need for a risk management program to create and still protect value. This includes contribution towards institutional attainment of set objectives. There is need to integrate risk management programs in both strategic and operational planning g process. In the context of a construction company, this procedure ensures that some measures for reducing MSDs are not left out in both plans. Risk management as a process enables in strategic decision making and therefore brings about the making of suitable choices, identification of priorities and selection of suitable action.
According to the fourth principle on explicit address of uncertainty, risk management programs help industries to develop controls that can minimize high probability for losses while maximizing the probability for gain. Adoption of this principle and preventive measures to MSDs will minimize compensation claims for MSD-related conditions while maximizing productivity. The risk management process and programs should however be timely and well-structured to contain the situation of risks in a given company. This boosts its efficiency, effectiveness and reliability within the institution. It should however be based on available information which has also been sought through the best approaches.
Tailor-making risk management procedures, is among the principles of proper risk management under the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard. Different companies can therefore design and implement their customized risk management procedures as long as they comply fully with the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard. Construction companies should ensure that this approach is used as it involves varying working conditions and tools. The eighth principle involves taking into account the existing human and socio-cultural factors. This will help in enhancing acceptability of the preventive measures in place and the attitude towards any related interventions. Transparency and inclusivity in the design and implementation of risk management processes is an important measure. Internal and external stakeholders must thus be considered in this process, even in the construction industry.
Further, the tenth principle requires that the risk management process be not only iterative but dynamic and yet responsive to any emerging change. In the context of a construction company, there is need for managers and supervisors to ensure that they take care of emerging risks related to MSDs and make allowance for those that have long been eliminated. Lastly, risk management should translate into a continued improvement of the related institutions. With proper risk management procedures in the construction industry therefore, it is most likely there will be an improvement in the state of MSD management.
The Five Attributes to Enhance Risk Management
According to AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard, the first attribute that will enhance risk management process is when agencies fully agree to take accountability for all their risks and come up with control and treatment measures that are effective. In this regard, the construction industries must agree to be liable to the risks and the dangers posed to their workers as a result of exposure and therefore develop the best measures to put this situation in control.
Secondly, an increase in the emphasis on a continuous risk management improvement trend is also an attribute of proper risk management program. There is need for institutions to set their performance goals, modify processes, systems, resources and the capability to have a sustained improvement that is however continuous. Construction companies should adopt this attribute so as to effectively manage MSDs among their workers.
Thirdly, risk management process must require that all responsible individuals are identified. AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard requires further that these individuals are suitably skilled, own adequate resources that enable them check and boost control measures, monitor related risks, and have the proper communication abilities towards stakeholders. Construction companies must thus ensure that they identify such these individuals who cannot only educate the workers on safety procedures but also involve other stakeholders in doing so.
Fourthly, decision making in any given institution should consider the different risks that have been identified. It should also consider how appropriate the applicability of the risk management process could be for the staff. Further, in line with the fifth attribute of the risk management process, there is need for frequent reports to the relevant stakeholders regarding the performance of an institution’s risk management. Construction companies can thus adopt this attribute and ensure that there is continuous reporting on the progress of risk management process, which is also highly visible.
The Development of a framework for Enterprise-wide Risk Management
According to the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard, there is need for institutions including construction companies for this particular report, to develop a framework that enables them to integrate risk management practice into all their enterprise-wide systems of risk management. Under this framework, companies need to ensure that the framework on risk management encompasses policy objectives, commitment to management of risks and legislative responsibility. Furthermore, there is need for the risk management framework to be embedded within an institution’s policies, practices and values. Construction companies thus need to ensure that their commitment to the Australian Strategy on the reduction of MSDs beyond 30% by 2022 is factored in the development of both their short term and long-term policies. They should ensure that they commit procedure, resources, internal and external relationships among other activities into ensuring that there is an increase in the adoption of safer work procedures and thus a consequential reduction in MSD level within their workplaces across the country.
Under this framework, there are three major objectives to be considered according to the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Standard.
Strategic objectives-There is need for senior executives in a given workplace and/or industry to provide strategic direction. Therefore, senior managers and supervisors in the construction industries should therefore provide clear short and long-term direction on the achievement of lower MSDs among workers.
Operational objectives-They give responsibility to middle level managers of any company/agency to align strategic objectives set, with the operations of the company/agency. These particular strategic objectives should provide an outline on the roles of every unit within the company is supposed to do in order to reach the targeted outcomes. Construction industry middle level managers should thus ensure that they align the objectives on the reduction of MSDs with company operations.
Line objectives-The line managers in a given institution has the responsibility to come up with short term and yet more specific strategic plans, to be achieved in the short term. In the context of a construction company, line managers should provide short term risk management plans with specific measures to for instance, prevent MSDs among workers. These plans should indicate the procedures through which these particular measures should be carried out and the time frame.
Recommended Conventional Prevention of MSDs in the Construction Industry
The first step to prevent MSDs as described in Rwamamara et al (2010), in any particular health and safety program in the construction industry is to carry out a risk identification and assessment of exposure factors. This process involves observation and interviewing of workers regarding their experience with the working conditions and tools. Observation on the other hand involves recognizing the crucial points at which there is need for intervention with particular preventive measures (Scherzer & Newcomer, 2013). Risk identification must always be a through practice as it will determine the type of controls to be put in place so as to limit the effect of MSDs among workers.
Secondly, there is need to put controls in place so as to minimize the exposure rates to the risks of MSDs among the different workers within a construction site. There are many control measures which are defined by different national risk management policies and which are specific for each particular industry (Massitti, 2006). However, engineering controls within a given company may be customized to fit the setting of the workplace and still improve the state of exposure to the risks involved. These controls may also include the provision of personal protective equipment including gloves, overalls, and helmets among others (Dale et al, 2014). Vibrating machines that bring about shaking of muscles among other MSDs should be replaced with silenced machines and/or those with ideal vibration frequency.
Thirdly, workers should be advised and trained on the risks of MSDs and how to overcome them according to Rwamamara et al (2010). Before workers are allocated work, there is need for experts to provide advice on the correct procedures to follow, the proper use of particular tools, the need for body recovery including the importance of rest breaks among others. While some of the workers may be well-trained, there is need to consider the health risks of those who are casual workers by putting them under the most experienced workers (Mathew, 2014). In this regard, they are likely to learn the safety skills and improve their productivity while watching their own safety.
Further, participatory approaches in ensuring the proper health and safety of workers in regard to the risk of acquiring MSDs must also be used. For mining companies and construction engineering processes, workers must be encouraged to take part in the workplace health and safety programs pro-actively (Gibbons, 2014). Participation will lead to early reporting of accidents and/or predisposing factors to MSDs, symptoms of MSDs and any emerging situations within the work process (Dale et al, 2014). Workplace supervisors should thus inculcate a culture of letting the workers report and participate in creating possible solutions to negative risk of MSDs in the workplace.
This report provides a review of the Australian Work Safety and Health Strategy for 2012-2022 including the set targets to be achieved by the end of the period. These include targets to reduce rates of compensation claims related to injury fatalities and MSDs. The report also includes a literature review on the risk management of MSDs. This includes literature from different publications on the proper risk management for MSDs in the construction industry. Further, the report provides a review of the AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 standard framework, principles and procedures. This standard can be useful as indicated in the report, to enhancing better risk management of MSDs in Australian construction industry. Further, the report provides the recommended measures that can be used in the management of musculoskeletal disorders in the construction industry.
Dale, A., Ryan, D., Welch, L., Olsen, M., Buchholz, B., & Evanoff, B. (2014). Comparison of musculoskeletal disorder health claims between construction floor layers and a general working population. Occup Environ Med, 72(1), 15-20. https://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2014-102313
Entzel, P., Albers, J., & Welch, L. (2007). Best practices for preventing musculoskeletal disorders in masonry: Stakeholder perspectives. Applied Ergonomics, 38(5), 557-566. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2006.08.004
Gibbons, L. (2014). Managing Minor Musculoskeletal Injuries and Conditions Bradley David Managing Minor Musculoskeletal Injuries and Conditions 394pp £32.99 Wiley Blackwell Publishing 9780470673102 0470673109. Emergency Nurse, 22(8), 10-10. https://dx.doi.org/10.7748/en.22.8.10.s13
Iles, R., Wyatt, M., & Pransky, G. (2012). Multi-Faceted Case Management: Reducing Compensation Costs of Musculoskeletal Work Injuries in Australia. Journal Of Occupational Rehabilitation, 22(4), 478-488. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10926-012-9364-2
International Organisation for Standardization, ISO Guide 73:2009, Risk Management-Vocabulary, First Edition, 2009.
Konda, S., Tiesman, H., & Reichard, A. (2016). Fatal traumatic brain injuries in the construction industry, 2003−2010. Am. J. Ind. Med., 59(3), 212-220. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22557
Liao, C. & Chiang, T. (2016). Reducing occupational injuries attributed to inattentional blindness in the construction industry. Safety Science, 89, 129-137. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2016.06.010
Mathew, L. (2014). Influence of Job Stress on Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Employees in Construction Industries in Kerala. International Journal Of Engineering Trends And Technology, 17(8), 361-368. https://dx.doi.org/10.14445/22315381/ijett-v17p273
Rwamamara, R., Lagerqvist, O., Olofsson, T., Johansson, B., & Kaminskas, K. (2010). Evidence?based prevention of work?related musculoskeletal injuries in construction industry. Journal Of Civil Engineering And Management, 16(4), 499-509. https://dx.doi.org/10.3846/jcem.2010.56
Salem, O., Sobeih, T., Genaidy, A., Shell, R., Bhattacharya, A., & Succop, P. (2008). Work compatibility and musculoskeletal disorders in the construction industry. Human Factors And Ergonomics In Manufacturing, 18(2), 230-252. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hfm.20110
Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand Standard Committee, AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009,Risk Management-Principles and Guidelines, November 2009.
Village, J. & Ostry, A. (2010). Assessing attitudes, beliefs and readiness for musculoskeletal injury prevention in the construction industry. Applied Ergonomics, 41(6), 771-778. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2010.01.003