Breaking News

Impacting the Safety, Health, and Well-being of Construction Apprentices

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the US. It has the highest number of fatalities of any type of job, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As if precarious work at extreme heights, exposure to chemicals and dust, and heavy lifting were not enough threats to the health of construction workers, irregular employment and hours, long commutes, multiple job sites, and long workdays cause psychological stress and can lead to risky health behaviors such as poor diet and substance use. New construction workers are at even greater risk according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In order to address this issue, the Healthier Workforce Center of the Midwest has received funding from the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to find ways to tackle the problem by partnering with Carpenters’ District Council of Greater Saint Louis and Vicinity and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmith, Forgers and Helpers, the first labor-based affiliate under NIOSH’s Total Worker Health® program in 2014. The Apprentice Project team will: (1) evaluate the impact of work organization and work environment factors on the health and health behaviors of apprentices in three construction trades; (2) identify workplace programs, policies, and practices affecting worker health and well-being that are currently implemented by construction contractors and trade unions, and determine readiness for adoption of new interventions to improve worker health; and (3) assess the feasibility of partnering with organizations serving construction workers (e.g., unions, insurance companies) to disseminate interventions to improve the health and well-being of apprentice construction workers. The project is being co-led by Healthier Workforce Center Director Diane Rohlman, PhD, at the University of Iowa and Associate Center Director Bradley Evanoff, MD, MPH, at Washington University at St. Louis.

Progress toward study objectives:

  1. Evaluate the impact of work…
    • Year 1: Apprentices from the carpentry, floor-layer trades and journeyman from the boilermakers completed the questionnaire (N=991).
    • Year 2: The survey was revised and pilot tested prior to Year 2 data collection; 912 surveys were collected.
  2. Identify workplace programs, policies, and practices that are currently implemented…
    • We have conducted 2 focus groups with general contractors, subcontractors and union representatives
  3. Assess the feasibility of partnering with organizations serving construction workers…
    • Although currently in Year 2 of the 5-year study, we have become work on Year 3 objective having recently completed our first interview with a potential intervention partner.

Project Products:

  • Evanoff B (2018). Influence of work organization and environment on health behaviors of construction apprentices. International Congress on Occupational Health. Dublin, Ireland, April 29-May 4.
  • Dale AM (2018). Contrasting Prevalence of Health and Safety Risks and Controls between Residential and Commercial Construction Apprentices. 2nd International Total Worker Health Symposium. Bethesda, MD, May 8-11.
  • Evanoff B (2018). Influence of work organization and environment on health behaviors of construction apprentices. 2nd International Total Worker Health Symposium. Bethesda, MD, May 8-11.

Related Center Products:

  • Rohlman DS, Parish MA, Hanson GC, Williams LS (2018)Building a Healthier Workforce: An Evaluation of an Online Nutrition Training for Apprentices. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2018.03.006