We talk all the time about dangers on the jobsite—and there are many—but a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests that it may be during the off-the-clock time that construction workers are at more serious risk of injury or illness. And the behaviors don’t just apply to workers, but to construction management as well.
In a survey that looked at 38 different construction occupations, including laborers, project managers, and tradeworkers, they found that workers and managers have an elevated risk of smoking, using smokeless tobacco, binge drinking, and not always using a seat belt. The study focused on the managers as they hold roles that could influence the actions of the workers.
Due to the high prevalence of these risky behaviors, the study authors said that construction workers and managers would benefit from targeted interventions and health programs specific to construction, in addition to the training they already receive for work-based hazards.
Stuart Binstock, the CEO of Construction Financial Management Association, which runs the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention task force, said that managers and construction leaders need to take this information and make direct interventions. Specifically, he said construction managers and supervisors need to watch for employees that are: appearing sad or depressed, overly tardy or absent, have decreased productivity, have conflict with coworkers, have extreme mood swings, act anxious, agitated or reckless, and have a decreased problem-solving ability.
"In our work in suicide prevention, these are some of the factors that have led to construction having the highest incident rate of suicide among all industries," Binstock said. "Risky behaviors such as alcohol, drug abuse and use of prescription opioids are the same behaviors that have led to increased suicides."