August 25, 2017

Top 3 risk factors for Colorado construction employees

There’s no question that an unsafe work environment can lead to employee injuries. Safety programs, use of proper equipment and risk management training are just a few of the ways you can help keep your employees safe on the job. However, it’s also important to understand the common health risk factors your employees face that can increase their likelihood of injury. Identifying these risks and taking steps to counteract them is a crucial part of your risk management program.

Get to know the top three health risk factors for Colorado construction employers:

1. Poor nutrition

According to Pinnacol’s worksite wellness data, poor nutrition is the top health risk factor for those working in the construction, mining, and oil and gas industries, with 81 percent reporting behaviors that contribute to this condition. This is primarily caused by low fruit and vegetable intake, low consumption of whole grains, and even low water intake, which could quickly lead to dehydration.

To mitigate this risk factor, employers can provide healthy snacks such as fruit and whole-grain granola bars, ensure there is plenty of water available on job sites, and promote a culture of healthy eating whenever food is provided for work sites and events.

2. Stress

The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America, an organization that supports the worksite health and safety of laborers, reports a number of factors that cause stress specifically in the construction industry, which translate easily to other industries we are examining. They include:

  • Unrealistic project timelines.
  • Delays caused by weather, change orders and material deliveries.
  • Long hours and overtime that may interrupt natural circadian rhythms and sleep.
  • Ongoing concerns about job security.

Mitigation of many of these factors begins with setting realistic timelines and project completion dates. Tracking and using past data to estimate for future projects, along with encouraging open lines of communication between project managers and workers, all help in this endeavor.

3. Tobacco use

A 2010 Centers for Disease Control report found that 18.8 percent of workers in the mining industry and 7.9 percent of workers in the construction industry use smokeless tobacco. Use of cigarettes was much higher for both industries, with 27 percent of those in mining and 29.5 percent of those in construction reporting smoking.

Though smoking is often a cultural or social habit, employers can mitigate this risk by designating workplaces as tobacco-free — which also prevents the secondhand smoke risk to nonsmokers. Employers can also provide information about smoking’s effects on overall health and hold smoking cessation classes or workshops.

Want to learn more about ways to mitigate health risks in the workplace? Our friends at HealthLinks, a signature program of the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health, can help.