What is it?
More than nine million U.S. construction workers build and maintain houses, roads, workplaces, and other projects. They include brick masons, carpenters, drywall installers, iron workers, plumbers, roofers, and welders. Electricians, engineers, and painters also work in construction. They can all be exposed to health and safety risks on construction sites.
Why is it a concern?
Workers may be exposed to harmful chemicals that are in construction materials or are released during construction. Safety concerns in construction include falls, vehicle accidents, electrocution, machinery, falling objects, noise, and trench cave-ins on construction sites.
Who is at risk?
- Construction workers
- Other people who access or pass near construction sites
- People doing home renovations
What pollutants are of greatest concern?
- Chemicals in construction materials may include arsenic preservatives, lead coatings, and solvents.
- Demolition construction may expose workers to older, harmful insulation materials such as asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and formaldehyde.
- Construction equipment running on diesel fuel may expose workers to harmful emissions.
- Crystalline silica is found in concrete, masonry, sandstone, rock, paint, plaster, and shingles. If the silica dust builds up in lungs, it can cause an often fatal lung disease called silicosis.
Reduce your risk
- Do you live near a construction site?
- Is your home undergoing renovation?
- Avoid unnecessary access to construction sites.
- Only trained professionals should access construction sites.
- Keep children away from such sites.
- Use a certified and insured professional contractor, especially in any renovation that might have asbestos exposure.
- Use solvents and chemical products safely.
- Know the risks of your construction project and take steps to minimize the risks.
- Reduce the risks of fires on construction sites.
- Wear proper protective gear.
- Maintain fall protection systems.
Keep children away from construction sites.
National Library of Medicine Resources and Databases
- Occupational Health
Curated links to current consumer health information on occupational health. These English and Spanish web resources include background information, prevention and risk factors, related issues, specifics, statistics and research, clinical trials, journal articles, key terms, relevant agencies, targeted resources for women and seniors, and patient handouts.
- Construction Safety and Health
(National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Compilation of resources aimed at improving safety and health conditions for construction workers.