'Hard Hats' Still Have High Rates of Injury, Illness: Report

MONDAY Oct. 31, 2011 -- Construction workers in the United States have a high risk of work-related injuries and an increased risk of work-related illness and death, a new study shows.

Researchers analyzed data from several national sources and found that a construction worker has a 75 percent chance of suffering a disabling injury over a 45-year career, and a 1-in-200 risk of being fatally injured on the job.

Hispanic construction workers have a 20 percent higher risk of dying from a work-related injury than whites, according to the study authors from the Center for Construction Research and Training.

They also found that people who start construction work at age 20 have a 15 percent chance of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease over their lifetime and an 11 percent chance of developing dust-related changes to the lung tissue.

The study was scheduled for release at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, held Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.

"While great strides have been made in reducing construction injuries and illnesses, the numbers are still stubbornly high," Pete Stafford, executive director of CPWR, said in an APHA news release.

"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," Stafford said.

Research presented at medical meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about construction safety and health.

Posted: October 2011


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