New Study Reveals When Construction Workers Are At Most Risk For Injury
The best way to limit workers’ compensation cases is to prevent work injuries in the first place.
That is why any quality data that helps employers understand when workers are most at risk can promote worker safety initiatives.
For example, a recent Oregon State University (OSU) study found that workers in the construction industry are most likely to suffer traumatic injuries during the fourth hour of their shift, and those who work evening or night shifts experience more severe injuries than their day-shift counterparts.
The study reviewed over 12,000 workers’ compensation claims from the Oregon construction industry from 2007-2013 that were classified as disabling. For the purposes of the study, “disabling” claims meant the work-related injury or illness caused the worker to:
- Miss at least three days of work
- Be hospitalized overnight
- Become permanently disabled
Common injuries in construction include falls, wounds caused by falling or moving objects, and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including neck, back, knee and other joint injuries.
Though the overall disabling claims rate decreased significantly from 2007 to 2013, the construction industry remains one of the most dangerous for workers in the country.
The OSU study showed that nearly 80% of injuries were sustained by workers aged 25-54. However, the older the worker is, the higher the medical costs and missed more workdays result from the injury. The study found that the average medical compensation awarded per injury in Oregon was $12,000 and the average loss of work was 80.5 days.
What was also interesting is the study found that construction workers were most likely to sustain an injury during the fourth hour of work, with the rate of injury decreasing thereafter. Though injuries were less likely after the fourth hour of work, they were more likely to be severe.
The study’s lead author, Liu Yang, said that workers who take a mid-shift rest or meal break experience some restorative benefits. But employers that did not ensure such breaks may be putting their workers at increased risk of severe injury. Increased workplace supervision and work organization, which takes into account the number of hours worked, and strict observance of mandatory rest breaks and meal breaks could help reduce the risk of workplace injury during the critical fourth hour of work.
Review of a small sample of workers aged 16-24 showed that they were also a vulnerable population, experiencing the highest rates of injury.