208549 Safety and health among older construction workers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH , CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, MD
Construction workers are typically younger than the national labor force in the United States. But, construction workers are aging also. The median age was 34 years for construction workers in 1985, while it was 39 years in 2007. Older workers are more vulnerable to risks at worksites due to possible declining cognitive and physical abilities with age. The safety and health of older workers has become a significant challenge to the construction industry.

To identify the patterns of work-related injuries and illnesses among older construction workers, we analyzed several large national representative datasets, including the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the Current Population Survey, and the National Health Interview Survey. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted using SAS (version 9.2).

Our initial findings show that the rate of work-related deaths steadily increases with age. The patterns of fatal and nonfatal injuries are different between older and younger construction workers. Age is also directly associated with health status. Older construction workers' perceived health leaned more toward the negative end of the distribution compared with their younger counterparts. The prevalence of chronic diseases (such as low back pain, hearing loss, etc) dramatically increases among older construction workers.

This study suggests that health policy and employment policy should take the aging workforce into consideration. Safety and health interventions should meet needs of older workers, especially for older construction workers who face a high risk and high physical demand at worksites.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the patterns of work-related injuries and illnesses among construction workers by age group 2. Assess health status of older construction workers and the associations with workplace exposures 3. Make recommendations to workplace interventions in the construction industry

Keywords: Occupational Surveillance, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctoral degree in public health and 15 years experience in occupational safety and health surveillance. I'm also the first author or coautor of several books, peer-reviewed papers, and other publications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.