Career Construction Workers Face Increased Injury, Fatality Odds

Nov. 7, 2011
The news is bleak for construction workers who make the profession their lifelong occupation: Researchers have concluded that the majority of career construction workers will suffer at least one – if not more – occupational injury or illness during their time working in the industry. Even worse, these workers also face a higher risk of being fatally injured on the job.

The study, conducted by researchers from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, estimates that a construction worker who spends a 45-year career in the field has a 75 percent chance of experiencing a disabling injury. This worker also faces a 1-in-200 chance of being fatally injured on the job.

The news is even more worrisome for Hispanic construction workers, who face a 20 percent higher risk of dying from an on-the-job injury.

"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."

The study also revealed that an individual 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.

CPWR released its study findings at the American Public Health Association’s (APA) annual meeting. The data relied on information gleaned from several national sources, including the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Researchers noted that using cross-sectional data, the traditional method of presenting occupational safety and health, tends to underestimate risk. Presenting risk based over a lifetime presents a more accurate estimate.

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