Construction Work and
Baby Boomer Generation
The average age of a construction worker is now in the 40’s. In the construction industry as a whole, baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) represent 40 percent of the workforce, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).
A Long Road to Recovery
The nature of construction work presents many hazards for workers, many which may not appear until late into a worker’s career. Research suggests that long-term construction work impacts a worker’s musculoskeletal system. In addition, anytime an older worker suffers a workplace injury, they are more likely to be out of commission, and the road to recovery is longer.
When compared to workers in an office environment, construction workers are also less likely to have health insurance and have an increased likelihood of developing a chronic disease as they age. Their odds also increase for developing lung disease, stroke, back problems, and arthritis.
Lower back injuries are a common injury experienced among construction workers. Also, as people age, they naturally lose strength and muscular endurance, which could have an effect on their ability to carry heavy loads. They may also lack the flexibility of younger workers and experience trouble working in awkward positions, making them more prone to a workplace injury.
Experts agree that a culture change is needed to alter certain employer and worker behaviors and practices such as:
- Dealing with the pain—the belief that pain is naturally part of the job when performing construction work.
- Hesitation when requesting help—a worker lifting a heavy load without assistance.
- Workers who are “set in their ways”—resistant to change in work processes or in using tools.
- Rushing—a mentality of getting the job done quickly without following proper safety procedures.
In addition to increasing awareness of these attitudes, utilizing the proper tools and work practices are important. Employers should also recognize the importance of job rotation among workers to help prevent repetitive motion injuries.
Shifting focus from hazardous to safe work practices will help reduce injuries
and keep older and more experienced employees safe and healthy on the job.
Safety News is produced by State Compensation Insurance Fund to assist clients in their loss control efforts. Information or recommendations contained in this publication were obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the date of publication. Information is only advisory and does not presume to be exhaustive or inclusive of all workplace hazards or situations. Permission to reprint articles subject to approval by State Compensation Insurance Fund.
© 2013 State Compensation Insurance Fund