The Increased Risks for Construction Industry Workers

The Increased Risks for Construction Industry Workers

05th August 2020

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recently launched information on some of the main health hazards found in the construction industry, and what can be done about them.

The Results

Their work was based on an earlier survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This showed that over half of all construction workers in the US had recently been exposed to hazards such as fumes, dust or vapours at least twice a week.

This figure highlighted the increased risk that workers in the construction industry deal with, as the rate of exposure was double that of the national average across all industries. To help deal with this situation, the AIHA will be launching a set of guidelines for construction workers.

Their aim is to educate employers on the ways to identify these risks and lower them. The resource they have produced to this effect is called Focus Four for Health, an Initiative to Address Four Major Construction Health Hazards, which was created by the AIHA Construction Committee.

Janet L. Keyes, CIH, is the Chair of the AIHA Construction Committee. She said that the attempts to minimise potential health hazards on construction sites “typically lag behind” the attention given to safety hazards. This is because health hazards are often “less observable”, although they can be even more damaging.

What Are the Main Health Hazards in Construction?

Among the main health issues faced on construction jobs is noise-induced hearing loss, which is classed as being the most commonly-seen work-related illness currently suffered in the US.

Another health risk is around heat stroke or exhaustion that can be a danger when carrying out tough jobs in warm weather. Construction workers may also suffer lasting damage from breathing in hazardous materials such as dust, vapours and fumes. These things all cause damage to the lungs and to other organs.

It is also worth pointing out that the physical demands of construction work can cause damage to a worker’s body. This can come in the shape of injuries to muscles and soft tissues, which often result in chronic pain.

A Balanced Approach Is Needed

The truth is that construction industry employers now have several different types of risk to worry about. As we have just seen, there are a number of major health risks that need to be taken into account.

Then there are the classic safety issues, such as dangers caused by falling or using inappropriate machinery. This is the type of issue that needs to be mitigated through the use of safety gear, a suitable ladder or step unit and other equipment.

Finally, the recent changes to working environments caused by the Covid-19 outbreak has meant that additional security measures are now needed. These include the social distancing aspect, as well as the requirement to maintain high levels of hygiene at all times.

It is important to remember to take the measures needed to reduce all of these risks. This will ensure a safer working environment where employees can carry out their tasks without fear.