Summary Statement

A manual that helps a trainer provide information on a variety of roadway hazards, such as electrical, falls, slips and trips and ergonomics. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

This document is one in a program produced under an OSHA grant by a consortium of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund N.A, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn, and the National Asphalt Pavement Assn. All of the documents from this set that are on eLCOSH can be found by clicking on Job Site, Heavy construction, and scrolling to the Street & highway heading. Or to download a complete version of the computerized program, go to

What Injuries Are Most Common?

Sprain and strain injuries can happen once or can accumulate. Common sprain/strain injuries in road work:
  • Hand and wrist problems.
  • Back injuries.
  • Sprains, strains, and overexertion.
43% of lost work day injuries in roadway construction are sprains and strains.

Out of 7,933 highway workers with lost workday injuries in 2000, 3,378 had sprains or strains.

Another 85 had carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.

Back injuries are the most common sprains and strains in construction.

Fig. SS-1
Fig. SS-1. Sprain and strain injuries can happen once or can accumulate.


Ask trainees: Do you ever have muscle aches and pains at the end of a work day? Where? Back, shoulders, knees?

Has anyone ever missed work because of a sprain/strain injury?

What Causes These Injuries?

Think of the most difficult parts of your job. These injuries may be caused by:
  • Working in awkward postures, such as raking asphalt.
  • Handling heavy materials like in concrete formwork.
  • Repetitive work, like rebar tying or operating joysticks.
  • Using vibrating tools like a jackhammer or pavement breaker.
  • Whole body vibration for operators and other workers.
Fig. SS-2
Fig. SS-2. Think of the most difficult parts of your job. Awkward postures, lifting heavy materials, repetitive work, and vibrating tools all can cause sprains and strains.


Report sprains or strains just as you would report any other injury.

How Can We Avoid Sprains and Strains?

Think of ways to do the job differently. Work can be made easier:
  • Minimize manual materials handling with dollies, hoists, other equipment.
  • Better job planning — deliver materials where they're used.
  • Store materials for easy access.
  • Use tools that are comfortable, easy to handle.
PPE and breaks can help:
  • Wear PPE like kneepads and shoulder pads.
  • Take breaks when possible, rotate difficult and easier tasks.
Fig. SS-3A.
Fig. SS-3A. Work can be made easier by thinking of ways to do the job differently.

Fig. SS-3B.
Fig. SS-3B. Use shoulder pads, knee pads, and gloves as needed.


Ask trainees: What ways could your risk of injury be reduced? How could we work smarter, not harder? How could the work be made easier to prevent sprains and strains?

For operators, whole body vibration can be minimized by maintaining seat cushions and suspension.

What Can You Do to Prevent Injuries?

Do at least some of these measures. To prevent injuries:
  • Plan and maintain a clear, level walking path.
  • Don't lift too much by yourself. Get help.
  • Use proper lifting technique. Lift with your legs not your back when possible.
Fig. SS-4A
Fig. SS-4A. Don't lift too much by yourself.

Fig. SS-4B.
Fig. SS-4B. Use proper lifting technique. Lift with your legs not your back.

Fig. SS-4C.
Fig. SS-4C. Do stretching exercises before work.

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