Most Common Workplace Injuries in Construction

Construction is one of the largest employers worldwide. There are 2.2 million construction workers in the UK alone, making it their biggest work force. It is a physically demanding profession which brings with it risks of injury and illness. Although workers compensation can make up for these to a degree, preventing them in the first place is beneficial to all involved.

Construction has the highest level of injuries of any type of work due to the demands the job puts on your body and the dangerous situations its workers are put in. In developed countries, injuries have reduced in the past 20 years. Undeveloped countries have suffered from an increase in injuries because there has been an increase in construction which has raised the number of new, inexperienced, unskilled workers making workplaces more dangerous.

Industrial disease doesn’t just cover accident injuries. Construction workers can develop many injuries and illnesses that are not instant from a single event. The environment on construction sites can have many dangerous factors that could potentially harm your health in many different ways. If you aren’t protected from these you could develop a work illness or injury.

Here are some of the work related injuries and illnesses that construction workers are at risk of :

  • Hearing Loss. Construction sites can be very noisy places and can easily cause hearing loss. It doesn’t take much to permanently damage your hearing. Sounds over 80dBA for a sustained period of time can cause deafness. Some examples of noise levels include a concrete saw 95dBA and a jack-hammer at 89dBA. If you are not protected by your employer from machinery like this and develop a problem you can make a hearing loss claim. This condition is classed as noise induced hearing loss and affects different frequencies than deafness which occurs naturally with age.
  • Vibration White Finger. This condition affects workers who use vibrating tools. VWF obviously affects the hands and fingers due to restricted blood supply. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is the general term that Vibration White Finger falls under. The condition is very painful and affects the blood vessels, joints and muscles. To prevent this, use vibrating tools as little as possible and when in use make sure measures are took such as anti vibration dampeners and handles. Regular breaks are also very important.
  • Asbestos. This is the biggest killer of workers worldwide. Although now banned in most countries, many buildings still have traces of asbestos present that can cause a risk. The symptoms of asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases take many years to show so unfortunately there will be cases reported long into the future.
  • Back Injury. Many jobs within construction involve heavy lifting, stooping, stretching and working beyond regular limits. These can all cause back injury. Measures should be taken at work to avoid your back being put under pressure. Machinery can be used to move heavy items and the correct posture should be maintained when manual tasks are being completed. If this isn’t adhered to you could permanently damage your back.
  • Occupational Dermatitis. In construction there are many chemicals and substances used that could damage your skin. This for example could be from wet cement, bitumen, petrol or greases. If your skin is unprotected from these it can become dry, itchy, swollen, flaked, cracked or blistered.

Your employer by law has to protect your health but many cases of industrial disease reported are from self employed workers who only have themselves to preserve their health and safety. Unfortunately they can’t claim compensation as it would be against themselves. Not having processes in place can increase their risk of injury and also they are more likely to push the limits of health and safety to save themselves money.

Unfortunately injury and illness will continue to happen in construction but with careful planning and preventative measures they can be kept to a minimum. This can be from hearing protection to scheduled breaks. Keeping workers safe and well is in everyone’s best interests as a safe, happy workforce is a productive one. Absent days and claims for compensation could cost a company thousands and these will also be avoided or kept to a minimum.