Who’s Got Yer Back?


OSHA reports back injuries are the #2 most common reason for missing work.


Number 1? The common cold.


As for the number of people injuring their back while sneezing… due to the common cold? I have no idea.


The point here is back problems are, well, un problema. About 8 out of 10 adults experience a back injury in their time spent on Earth. Take a moment now and look around your office…. who do you think the 2 are that will be back-pain free? Definitely lazy Andrew in Purchasing… that guy doesn’t do anything.


Anyway – let’s isolate some jobsite risk for a moment using the Journalist’s Credo: Who, What, When, & Where.


If you wanted to target the ethnic group most likely to be injured or killed – you’d target Latinos. Don’t get all politically correct on me – this isn’t Profiling. It’s a fact. Latinos are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed due to communication and cultural barriers.



If you wanted to target the most frequent type of injury on the job – you’d target Back Injuries. If you are surprised by this revelation, start reading again from the top.



If you wanted to target when the most injuries were occurring, it would be on your jobsite. To see this, First you must: DELETE your entire Inbox – don’t worry, if it’s important they will email again or pick up the phone. Seriously.  Second: Get out from behind your desk and see what is happening out there.

Yes, it is true that occasionally employees (of all ethnic backgrounds, mind you) hurt themselves playing Angry Birds or Jarts or what have you over the weekend, scurry on the jobsite Monday morning and lie down under the nearest ladder claiming a jobsite injury. But, unless you have employees that are part of some construction version of the Truman Show or are being monitored by the FBI (which, in either case – fire them with or without cause immediately)… don’t get creepy & start following them on the weekends. There is only so much you can do.



There are thousands of unique and interesting ways to hurt your back on the job. Look around. Roofing, Concrete Finishing, and any type of Manual Labor is where I’d start.

As it happens, many Latinos on our jobsites are engaged in Roofing, Concrete Finishing, and many types of Manual Labor. So let’s learn how to reduce back injuries with comunicación.


We have covered CUIDADO (kwee-DAH-doh) in the past – which means BE CAREFUL. Yell this out loud to get some atención.

Then point to your back and say ESPALDA.








You can remember ESPALDA by thinking of an activity that is sure to cause pain in your ESPALDA – fixing SPALLING concrete. The fact is that fixing ay-SPALLING concrete is ESPALDA-BREAKING work.

I mean, look at this guy. There is no way that doesn’t take a toll on his ESPALDA.


Muchísimo dolor en la ESPALDA.


So, to lock in ESPALDA, picture SPALLING concrete and imagine it on your ESPALDA.





Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He thinks Jim Carrey should have gotten an Oscar for Truman Show. Or was it The Cable Guy?  

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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