Materials Handling Contractor Planning Tool

Contractor Planning Tool

Prevent Injuries

Strain and sprain injuries (also referred to as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or soft tissue injuries) are a leading cause of disabling injuries in the construction industry.(1)

  • In 2017, the rate of MSDs in construction was about 9% higher than the rate for all industries combined.
  • Soft tissue injuries are primarily caused by overexertion (e.g. lifting, moving, pushing, pulling) and are most common in the back, followed by shoulders and knees. In 2017, overexertion accounted for 94% of MSDs. The remaining 6% were caused by repetitive motions and other activities.
  • Construction workers of all ages experience back pain. In fact, 14% of 18-24 year-olds and 28% of 25-34 year-olds in construction self-reported having back pain.


These and other painful injuries can ultimately lead to opioid use disorder.(2) Construction work is hard work and injuries are common. Construction workers also have high levels of job stress and job insecurity, and paid sick leave is rare. When steps are not taken to prevent strain, sprain and other painful injuries, companies risk having employees working while in pain, relying on opioids to ease the pain, developing substance use disorders, and working under the influence of opioids.