Study Pegs Construction Workers' Career Risks

Data presented Oct. 31 at the American Public Health Association's 139th Annual Meeting showed nearly all construction workers will experience one or more work-related injuries or illnesses over a lifetime, plus a greater risk of premature death.

A study presented Oct. 31 at the American Public Health Association's 139th Annual Meeting calculates the risk over a working lifetime for a construction worker and concludes those risks are high. Nearly all construction workers will experience one or more work-related injuries or illnesses over a lifetime, as well as a greater risk of premature death, according to the data.

Researchers from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training used multiple years of data from several national sources, including the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. They found over a 45-year career, a construction worker has a 75 percent likelihood of experiencing a disabling injury and a one in 200 chance of being fatally injured on the job. A Hispanic construction worker has a 20 percent higher likelihood of dying from a work-related injury.

Someone who begins construction work at the age of 20 has a 15 percent chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease over a lifetime and an 11 percent chance of developing dust-related parenchymal chest x-ray changes, they found.

"While great strides have been made in reducing construction injuries and illnesses, the numbers are still stubbornly high," said Pete Stafford, executive director of CPWR. "Workers and their families suffer the consequences of disabling injuries, and this research shows it's far too common. So we must continue to raise awareness of the problems and hope to see our research findings put to use to reduce construction fatalities, injuries, and illnesses."

Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH; Laura Welch, MD; John Dement, Ph.D., CIH; and Knut Ringen, DrPH, are scheduled to deliver the presentation during Session 3256, "Lifetime risk of occupational injuries and illnesses among construction workers."

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