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Selected Category: Outdoor Work

Safety Pays. Falls Cost

Categories: Construction, Outdoor Work, Personal Protective Equipment

One sunny June morning in 2009, Hector* went to work just as he had every other morning. He climbed to the roof as usual to begin working. But this day was different. In an instant, Hector was hanging over the outside edge of the second story wall of the home the residential construction company he worked for was building.

While working on the top plate of the two-story home, Hector had lost his balance. As he stumbled, he had tried to regain his footing by stepping on a pressure block, but the block blew out and he had fallen.

Fortunately, because Hector was using fall protection he is not among the thousands of workers we remember this year on Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28, 2012.  He fell only inches, not two stories. He was pulled back up onto the roof by a coworker, treated with first aid for a minor cut on his leg, and returned to work.

In an effort to create more successful outcomes like Hector’s, this Workers’ Memorial Day NIOSH and its partners are announcing a new campaign to prevent falls in the construction industry.  Falls are the top cause of death in construction and account for one-third of all on-the-job deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S. over 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falls.

Cold Stress

Categories: At-risk Populations, Construction, Outdoor Work

Heavy equipment shoveling heavy snowFor many, a sweater or an extra degree on the thermostat is all that’s needed to keep warm at work on a cold day. Not so for those working outside or in an area that is poorly insulated or without heat. These workers may be at risk of cold stress. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop decidedly below normal and wind speed increases, heat can more rapidly leave the body. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

Hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains are all illnesses and injuries caused by cold stress. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature becomes abnormally low.

Keeping Workers Hydrated and Cool Despite the Heat

Categories: Exposure, Manufacturing, Outdoor Work

worker with glaring sun to his backMany areas of the country have been experiencing extreme temperatures this summer, and sadly the news has been full of stories about the lives lost due to heat stroke. While newscasters warn to stay out of the heat, many workers do not have that option. Keeping workers cool and well-hydrated are the best ways to protect them when working in hot environments.   

Risk factors for heat illness

Workers should be made aware of the many risk factors that may affect their heat tolerance. Risk factors that may influence heat illness include high air temperatures and humidity, direct sun exposure, indoor radiant heat sources (ovens, hot manufacturing processes, etc.), limited air movement, physical exertion, not drinking enough fluids (dehydration), personal protective equipment or clothing, certain medications, physical condition, lack of recent exposure (not acclimatized), and advanced age (65+). Workers should discuss their individual risk factors with their healthcare provider.   

Construction Equipment Visibility

Categories: Construction, Motor Vehicle Safety, Outdoor Work, Transportation

Diagram showing circumference of visibility behind a construction vehicle

Circumference of visibility behind a construction vehicle

Road construction workers face many hazards on the job. In addition to many of the hazards present on a “traditional” construction site, road workers also need to contend with moving vehicles both in and around the job site. Road construction workers risk injury from construction equipment operating within work zones. From 1995 through 2002, 844 fatal occupational injuries occurred at road construction sites. The majority of these fatalities, 693 (82%) cases, were reported to be transportation incidents. Fatalities involving a ground worker being struck by a vehicle or equipment accounted for 509 (73%) of the transportation incidents. Victims were as likely to be struck by construction equipment (32%) as by highway vehicles (28%). Backing up accounted for at least 50 percent of fatalities from being run over by construction equipment [Pegula 2004].

 
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