Tackling the hidden cost of the building boom
Scaffolder Jono van Echten had suffered through 10 years of back injuries before his back gave way just before the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
“I couldn’t feel my legs and I thought I was paralysed. I thought, this might be it.
“I was scared because I have a four-year-old son,” he says.
Jono is part of the hidden cost of New Zealand’s building boom – one of 48,650 injured construction workers that ACC supported last year at a cost of $153 million.
“Scaffolding is a bit rough on the body. It’s heavy equipment, but we lift and carry with good techniques. Doing it all day, six days a week, you need to do it right. Sometimes a slip or being off-balance means you get a tweak or a strain. It’s common on a building site or lugging up a Wellington hill,” Jono says.
“I think we condition and harden ourselves, but at the same time, it’s the things you don’t expect that may do you in. In my case lifting a laundry basket.”
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ACC: March, 22 2021