No one likes being sick. This is true regardless of industry. The potential loss of productivity and money and the temporary damage to your well-being makes being sick one of the most stressful parts of our professional and personal lives. Some workplaces present a higher risk of illness than others, including the construction industry.
There are a number of factors inherent in construction that make illness more likely. These factors include exposure to hazardous materials, airborne dust and dirt, asbestos, and adverse weather conditions, including intense heat. Unfortunately, these factors can have far-reaching effects on workers in this field. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness. Further, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) reports that workers’ compensation stemming from incidents of illness or injury, increased from $60 billion to $75 billion between 2000 and 2009.
Construction work-related illness is a serious financial and physical issue. The following two-part guide will provide information on the serious illnesses that can be contracted on the construction site as well as ways employers can help prevent them. Part one will focus on respiratory disorders, while part two will focus on heat-related illness.
Respiratory Illnesses Among Construction Workers
Due to the exposure to hazardous materials, construction workers are at risk of contracting a number of respiratory disorders, including:
- Asbestosis: Exposure to asbestos during renovation projects can lead to scarring of lung tissue, lung cancer, or pleural thickening (swelling of the outside layer of the lung).
- Lung Cancer: This can be caused by exposure to hazardous materials as well as lifestyle choices, like smoking on construction sites.
- Silicosis: Breathing in the dust from hard materials, like granite or marble, can cause this respiratory illness.
What Companies Can Do to Protect Employees
Protecting your employees must be a top priority. Here are a few measures that you can take to provide a healthier workplace:
- Assess, Control, and Review: Great Britain’s version of OSHA, the Health and Safety Executive, outlines a set of overlying principles to follow when preventing illness in the workplace. It calls for companies to assess potential hazards before a project begins, put mechanisms in place to control these hazards as much as possible, and review safety plans regularly.
- Injury and Illness Prevention Plan: Having a plan in place that limits exposure to hazardous materials and situations is critical. These plans will prevent you from receiving an OSHA claim, which an OSHA defense lawyer can help you with, and keep your employees healthy.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.