You’re an experienced construction worker. You have your own PPE, steel toed boots for all weather occasions and keep your eyes open for physical safety hazards: falls, scaffold collapse, repetitive motion injuries and more.
But there are also health hazards you may overlook. Here are six things to keep in mind to make sure you stay in tip-top shape.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States for more than 25 years. Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Short term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing (your ears may feel stuffed up) or a ringing in your ears (tinnitus). These short-term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area. However, repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Wearing earmuffs or earplugs can protect your hearing.
Silica is a basic component of sand, quartz and granite rock. Activities such as roof bolting, stonecutting, drilling, brick/block/concrete cutting, asphalt paving, hammering, chipping and sweeping concrete can create an airborne silica exposure hazard. An over exposure to silica results in approximately 300 deaths annually in the construction industry. (www.osha.gov, 2015)
Breathing wood dust that becomes airborne through sanding and cutting may cause allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms, and cancer. The extent of these hazards and the associated wood types have not been clearly established but safety equipment and reducing exposure are definitely recommended. OSHA has several suggestions for respirators and other work place safety tips to keep you from breathing as much wood dust.
Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma. PeopleReady will not knowingly send you to a job where asbestos is present. If you are on a job where it is found, do not touch it, leave the site and contact your branch manager immediately. Additional information about asbestos is included in your safety handbook and from OSHA.
OSHA estimates that approximately 838,000 construction workers may be exposed to various forms of lead in the workplace. Workers are exposed to lead when they are working near the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Workers are often exposed during the removal, renovation, or demolition of structures painted with lead pigments. Learn more about how to control your exposure from OSHA.
Synthetic Mineral Fibers
Synthetic mineral fibers are made primarily from rock, clay, slag, or glass. These fibers are generally put into three groups into three general groups: fiberglass, mineral wool, and refractory ceramic fibers. There are more than 225,000 workers in the US exposed to synthetic mineral fibers in manufacturing and end-use applications. Learn from OSHA how you can be better prepared for this exposure.
Your safety is very important to us. PeopleReady hopes these tips help keep you healthy and on the job. Have any other health hazards that may be overlooked, even for the most seasoned construction worker?