COVID-19: A Deadly Reality for Construction Workers

COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the lives of construction workers, claiming more losses in its first year than any other cause, according to a data analysis conducted by Silver Spring, Maryland-based CPWR, the Center for Construction Research and Training. The virus proved particularly deadly among those aged 65 and older as 14,900 of them succumbed to COVID-19. It also took 5,200 lives among those between the ages of 35 to 64. Notably, however, workers aged 16 to 34 largely died from other causes.

The CDC discovered that the 2020 COVID death rate was 57.3 per 100,000 construction workers in this age group (16-64). This rate is substantially higher than the national average of 28.6 for all adults over this age range. When compared to other sectors such as food preparation and protective services – which had even higher rates – it’s clear that construction industry has been disproportionately impacted by the Covid pandemic.

These statistics underscore just how lethal this virus has been for the aging population working in construction fields – many of whom are essential employees who have kept our economy running throughout these tumultuous times. As we continue to grapple with the impact of Covid 19 in the years to come, it will be imperative that we prioritize safety measures such as personal protective equipment (PPE) on job sites across America while taking into account different risk levels associated with age groups in order to better protect our hardworking communities from additional loss and suffering due to this virus and any other new viruses.

The outbreak of Covid-19 had a profound effect on many aspects of our lives, not least of which are the physical and emotional impacts it has had on construction workers. Construction was declared an essential industry during the pandemic, and workers were expected to continue with their duties in spite of the risks associated with the virus.

Physical Effects

Construction is an inherently risky job, but the risks associated with Covid-19 add a whole other layer to consider. Construction sites often involve large groups of people working in close proximity for long hours, so social distancing is difficult to enforce at best. As a result, many workers have been exposed to the virus without even realizing it until they begin exhibiting symptoms days or weeks later. Additionally, there are concerns over proper access to PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and gloves that can help protect workers from exposure.

The physical health risks posed by Covid-19 are not limited to exposure either; there are also worries about long-term effects that could impair worker performance and efficiency. For instance, some studies have found that fatigue related to Covid-19 could lead to an increase in workplace injuries due to impaired cognitive function and slower reaction times. It is important for employers to ensure their employees are taking adequate breaks throughout their shifts in order to reduce fatigue as much as possible.

Emotional Effects

The emotional effects of Covid-19 on construction workers should also not be overlooked. With lockdowns, many construction workers were away from their families for weeks or even months at a time due to travel restrictions or quarantine measures put in place by their employers. That isolation took a toll on mental health often times went unchecked, leading to feelings of anxiety or depression for many workers.

Additionally, many construction companies have had financial losses due to the pandemic which leads some employees feeling insecure about job security or wages being cut back. Employers should make sure they are communicating openly with their staff members so they know what changes may be coming down the line and how it will affect them financially or otherwise going forward. This transparency will help ease any anxieties employees may have regarding job security during these uncertain times.

While Covid-19 presented unique challenges for everyone involved in the construction industry, understanding its potential impacts—both physical and emotional—is key when it comes to mitigating them as much as possible. By providing proper PPE and ensuring governmental guidelines are followed at all times, employers can work towards minimizing physical health risks associated with Covid-19 exposure for their staff members. They must also engage in open communication about any changes that may be due to financial losses incurred during this post pandemic period so as not cause any undue stress among employees regarding job security. Ultimately these measures will help ensure safer working conditions during these trying times.

Source material:
Photo Credit: – James Frid; Mikael Blomkvist