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Health and Safety Survey of Construction Apprentices

Construction is among the most hazardous industries in the US, with high rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries. Safety in construction is complicated due to rapidly changing work environments, unique hazards of the industry, and the organizational issues of coordinating interactions between multiple contractors. In addition to high rates of work injury, construction workers are more likely to die and to suffer from chronic diseases than other occupations. Construction workers also have higher rates of alcohol use, smoking, and other unhealthy behaviors. Since the goal is to prevent injuries and illnesses, it’s important to intervene early in construction workers’ careers. Therefore, the Healthier Workforce Center surveyed construction apprentices in order to better understand the relationships between work organization, environmental factors, health behaviors, and health outcomes. Results from more than 900 apprentices indicate high levels of job satisfaction, job security, and social support, but report high rates of musculoskeletal symptoms. Work related factors such as long commuting distance and no limits on daily working hours likely impact safety and health. Despite high smoking rates (28% are current smokers), only 55% report any restrictions on smoking at their worksites. These preliminary results highlight non-traditional worksite health risks.