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Interesting Statistics on Construction Safety

May 12, 2017 0 Comments

Efforts to boost awareness on construction safety is rightfully afforded among all workers on construction sites, most especially to younger workers since many of them lack experience and are therefore more susceptible to accidents if not closely supervised.

men in construction site

All workers need to recover completely from injury before returning to work

However, according to the data from Safe Work Australia from 2003 to 2013, records show that injury and fatality rates are more common among older construction workers. Numbers show that workers age 55 and above account for almost 25% of fatalities on construction sites. Among the self-employed, those over 55 years of age account for 19% of the workers, but covers 55% of fatalities. For workers above 65, the number of fatalities is six times the number of younger workers facing serious injuries.

The statistical report raises question about why older workers are more likely to experience fatalities on site. One possibility of this phenomenon is that older workers tend to have more risky tasks. The more experience they get, the more often they are given jobs that are high risk and labour intensive such as manual labour or bricklaying. In addition, many older workers are no longer as physically fit as they were in their earlier years in construction. Some may continue to push themselves to reach the outcomes that they achieved years before, ie. the spirit is more than willing, but the body may be struggling.

Peter Smith, associate professor in Monash University, encourages caution about the said data, as he believes it is difficult to draw conclusions based upon this report. He points out that the figures may be affected and inaccurate due to the slower recovery of older workers.

“As a result it is hard to say, based on the data presented, if the difference in serious injury rates are due to differences in injuries in general, if the injuries sustained by older workers are more severe, or if there are differences in the length of time older workers take to return to work after an injury, compared to their younger counterparts,” Smith said, referring to the Safe Work Australia data.

He says these strategies move away from the real hazards that exist within the environment and that the construction industry needs to focus more on the environment rather than the worker’s demographic, age or occupation.

According to Jason Goodall, a consultant at Work Safety Hub, many of the injuries shown in the data actually reveal the accumulation of stresses which have already built up throughout the worker’s life. He says that when these older workers were younger, many of them faced a bravado culture that required them to prematurely return to work after an injury. Over time, the injuries that were left untreated are aggravated and accumulate to contribute to more serious injuries, or worse, fatalities.

It is important that ALL workers – young and ageing – experience full recovery before returning to work. Injuries must be taken seriously in order to prevent fatalities and for younger workers, injuries that may potentially shorten their careers in the building and construction industry.

Filed in: Industry News

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