Construction Workers and COVID-19: Are We High-Risk?

COVID in the construction industry

If you work outside and are six feet away from others, are you at risk of contracting COVID-19? You wouldn’t think so. But the new-and-improved variant seems to be contagious if someone in another state sneezes.

Lack of consistent data is a problem. OSHA has logged every work-related COVID-19 case and fatalities but won’t release the 2020 data until November 2021.

Seeking COVID-19 numbers, Michigan grouped construction and manufacturing industries together. The result showed construction/manufacturing was the second largest workforce affected by COVID-19. But Illinois tracked construction separately from manufacturing and revealed there were 205 COVID-19 outbreaks within the manufacturing sector and only 10 in construction. Washington state showed higher COVID-19 rates among construction vs. other industries.

Massachusetts grouped manufacturing, construction, and distribution centers/warehouses together and found only nine infection clusters out of 7,100 statewide.

A construction project in Ohio vs. a jobsite in Texas – where you’re five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 – plays a part in risk factors.

Yes, Construction Workers Are High-Risk

Construction workers smoke more than other workers, which means their resistance to respiratory illness is lower. And for every long-timer construction professional, there are several transient job-hoppers onsite. That means implementing consistent protective procedures to lessen the risk of contagion is more difficult.

The construction industry is an aging workforce, and the pandemic targets older people. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate for people ages 40-49 is three times higher than people 18-29.

No, Construction Workers Are Not High-Risk

When you factor in age, pre-existing medical conditions, and other risks, 62% of workers across every industry are at high risk for COVID-19. Sixty percent of construction workers are at higher risk. That means construction work employees are at a lower risk than employees in other occupations.

At-Risk or Not, We Must Do What We Can To Stay Safe

All we can do is to continue encouraging and maintaining healthy workplaces and project sites. Appoint a safety and health administrator at each jobsite and encourage management to develop flexible sick leave policies. For more information, check out the information and links on the CDC website.

Keep your business development opportunities healthy with building permit data analytics. Contact Construction Monitor to learn more.