Ergonomic injuries impact thousands of construction workers throughout the United States each year. Some of the most common ergonomic injuries experienced by these individuals include carpal tunnel syndrome related to extended periods of repetitive movements, such as those involved in lifting heavy objects or drilling, and neck pain resulting from poor posture while performing daily tasks. Among all construction industry sectors, roofing has the second-highest incident rate of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, primarily due to distinct working conditions (i.e. working at non-standard angles) and the abnormal postures involved in maintaining certain positions. Here, we’ll take a look at 3 of the most common ergonomic injuries specific to roofers, discuss how they occur, and provide a few simple tips on reducing the risk of succumbing to them.
Ergonomic Injuries Specific To Roofers
Knee Musculoskeletal Disorders
One of the most common ergonomic injuries that affect roofers is knee musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Knee MSDs are especially prevalent among roofers due to the combined impact of roof slope and kneeling posture on the activation of the knee postural muscles (Dutta et al., 2020). Roofers who perform work on a high-pitched roof (30°) will experience a significant increase in the maximum normalized activation of the knee extensor muscles, which can be detrimental if repeated for extended periods of time.
Low Back Disorders
Low back disorders (LBDs) happen to be another common form of ergonomic injury among roofers. LBDs are generally a result of performing work on low-pitch rooftops quickly in a stooped posture. This is especially the case when roofers face sideways while completing tasks as they reach a maximum bending angle and a slightly higher average trunk flexion angle (Wang et al., 2017).
Foot and ankle pain is the third type of ergonomic injury experienced by roofers. Roofers typically perform work in stiff boots that hinder crouching or bending, and they frequently overstretch the Achilles tendon when working on slopes for extended periods of time.
Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Ergonomic Injuries In Roofers
Considering the nature of these specific ergonomic injuries, two of the best ways roofers can reduce their risk of experiencing these outcomes is by changing their posture and wearing appropriate gear. Regarding back and knee injuries, roofers should try to work in a kneeling posture instead of a stooped posture whenever possible and always wear knee pads or kneel on protective padding to reduce the impact of the surface on which they’re working. To minimize foot and ankle injuries, roofers should wear boots with soft mesh to support bending and a raised midsole that absorbs impact. Although discomforts are unavoidable in this injury, it doesn’t mean that roofers have to experience ergonomic injuries.