Keeping Concrete Masons Healthy

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Washington Safety and Health Training Institute (WASHTI)

Summary Statement

Information on steps cement masons can take to avoid musculoskeletal disorders.

Class update

  • Team taught by Bruce and Chuck until trainers who will be in attendance feel comfortable to teach the class.
  • Chuck and I are ready to pilot the class with either you, the other trainers and or another population
  • Will have testimonials from people whose careers were cut short by significant injuries
  • The class will be participatory.

    • Some discussion
    • Some working in groups
    • Problem solving
    • Putting them to work with a check sheet to determine risks when observing a number of jobs

      • Floating
      • Pouring
      • Screeding
      • Troweling

mason workers

Overexertion Claims vs All Others 2000-2004

Overexertion Claims vs All Others 2000-2004

Concrete work

  • Most of the work is at ground level.
  • Concrete is heavy and the forces generated in working with it are significant.
  • The weather and the concrete sets the schedule and the pace.
  • In many cases, once a pour is commenced, the work does not stop until it has been completed.
  • The Pacific Northwest is in an unprecedented construction boom
  • Technology exists which can be utilized to reduce the postures and forces on the back and upper and lower extremities while:

    • lifting and transporting forms and other materials
    • concrete pouring and finishing

  • The existing technology cannot be used in all circumstances.

mason worker

What you need to know and regularly practice in order to last in this profession

  • Proper body mechanics for concrete work
  • The importance of your own fitness in your ability to perform your work
  • The importance of working as a team in providing quality work and staying safe
  • Knowing your limits

mason workers

Testimonial(s) by people who have had to leave the profession due to serious injury (WMSD)


Some hazards in the workplace can lead to:

  • Overexertion
  • Strains and Sprains
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries which are also called…

which are also called…

Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Mason workers

WMSDs are occupational disorders of the soft tissues such as:

  • muscles
  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • joints
  • blood vessels
  • nerves

WMSDSs diagram


Awkward Posture

Hight Force

High Repetition

Risk Factors

  • Awkward Posture

    • Kneeling
    • Squatting
    • Neck posture
    • Back Posture
    • Wrist Posture
    • Hands above head
    • Elbows above shoulders

  • High Force

    • Gripping
    • Pinching

  • Repetition
  • Lifting

    • Awkward
    • Frequent
    • Heavy

Exposure to Risk Factors

Risk of injury depends upon:

Duration of exposure Risk of injury depends upon:
Frequency of exposure
Intensity of exposure
Combinations of risk factors

Risk Diagram

Awkward Postures

Neck or back bent forward
Neck or back bent forward
Hands above the head or elbows above the shoulders
Hands above the head or elbows above the shoulders

High Force



You must add the weight of a person’s upper body when considering the forces of lifting

You must add the weight of a person’s upper body when considering the forces of lifting

If this fellow weighs 180 lbs, 60% or 108 lbs is added to the force on L5-S1




Force & Slump

Force & Slump Force & Slump

The less the slump in inches, the denser the concrete which translates into greater force in finishing it.

Which one of these would you rather work with?

High Repetition

apple sortting

This is the most used and abused tool you have


This is the second most abused tool you have


Awkward Posture and Force

Awkward Posture and Force



  • Heavy lifting
  • Frequent lifting
  • Awkward lifting

Biomechanics of Lifting

Biomechanics of Lifting

Heavy Lifting

Heavy Lifting

Frequent Lifting

frequent lifting

Moving Materials -what

  • Reaching for the load by bending, reaching, or squatting
  • Lifting the load
  • Transferring the weight of the load to a carrying position
  • Carrying the load to the needed location
  • Depositing the load by lowering it to the ground, throwing it, or handing it to another laborer

moving materials cartoonMoving materials -how

  • Plan the lift

    • How much am I lifting?
    • Where is it going?
    • What is in the way?
    • What is the surface like between me and my destination

  • Get as close to the load as possible

    • Objects weigh more to your back the farther they get from your spine

  • Face the load
  • Bend your knees whenever possible
  • While lifting, carrying, and lowering materials, keep the load as close to your trunk as possible
  • Ask for help if the load is too heavy or bulky.

    • The size and shape of what you lift can be as important as the weight of the object

  • Avoid twisting your back
  • After heavy lifting, take a mini-break. Pause a few seconds to straighten your back and stretch

Hand Arm Vibration

Hand Arm Vibration.

Pinching & duration

Pinching & duration


  • “Spelling” your team members
  • Rotation
  • Plan the work

    • Place tools and product near point of application

football team mason workers




wrist deviationHazards:

  • Wrist deviation
  • Wrist Flexion
  • Back Flexion
  • Kneeling

What you can do:

  • Customize your float
  • Tripod
  • Knee pads
  • Stretch


Customize your float

Customize your float Customize your float




What you can do






What you can do



Pulling Hose



What you can do

pulling hose

Technique/doing things right

  • Bring all the tools you will need for the work to the site before you begin
  • Clean stakes before the cement dries
  • Use carts and other devices for transporting materials where possible
  • Stretch when you have a break in working
  • Rotate jobs when possible

strech carrying

screeding dos and don'ts




And hey…Let’s be careful out there!