Study: Construction workers prone to risky behaviors

| Jul 30, 2020 | Construction injuries |

Some of the most dangerous jobs in Los Angeles are in the construction industry. Construction accidents resulting in serious injuries are far too common.

A recent report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says certain risky behaviors that have been linked to work-related injuries are more common among construction workers than among workers in other industries.

Six behaviors that can increase injury risks

The study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine says six higher health-risk behaviors are more prevalent in the construction industry:

  • Binge drinking
  • Getting less than seven hours of sleep daily
  • Smoking
  • Smokeless tobacco use
  • No physical activity in leisure times
  • Intermittent use of seatbelts

Managers at risk, too

A recent Construction Dive article pointed out that it’s not only the workers who are engaging in health-risk behaviors. “Construction managers had elevated prevalences for several of these behaviors: smoking, smokeless tobacco use, binge drinking and not always using a seatbelt.”

Of course, both on- and off-site construction managers have important leadership roles in determining the pace of work and the construction methods and safety gear used on jobsites that control worker exposure to hazards.

The study looked at 38 construction occupations, including laborers, contractors, those in trades and project managers. Physically demanding construction jobs often include regular exposures to power tools, vehicles, heights, building materials, toxic chemicals, electricity and weather elements that can heighten dangers.

How construction injuries happen

The most common construction accidents include:

  • Falls: often from roofs, scaffolding and ladders
  • Equipmentrelated: heavy machinery striking or backing over workers
  • Vehiclerelated: often in off-site vehicle crashes, but also on-site striking workers, other vehicles or equipment
  • Electricityrelated: involving incomplete wiring systems, downed powerlines or contact with overhead or buried powerlines
  • Falling objects: tools or construction materials dropped or improperly secured above workers
  • Fire or explosion: triggered in a variety of conditions, often involving faulty wiring, vehicle crashes, leaks of hazardous liquids or gases
  • Trench or building collapse: typically both are sudden and without warning, trapping workers

The study’s authors suggest that a combination of health programs and targeted interventions for workers exhibiting some of the risky behaviors could help improve employee health and minimize risks of on-the-job injuries.