Construction work is one of the most stressful and tiring jobs in the United States. Therefore, while many construction accidents happen because of defective equipment, machine problems, or natural disasters, they can also occur due to human factors, such as fatigue and stress. When construction workers are overly exhausted or stressed while on the job, the risk of becoming seriously or fatally injured increases tremendously.
In 2022, research conducted by a company called StrongArm Technologies found that 47% of construction workers are stressed out on their job. Furthermore, “about a third of workers said it’s difficult to take time for vacation, and roughly the same share of workers said their job had negative effects on their mental health (12%) and physical health (11%).” Analysis published by the National Library of Medicine in 2022 found that “about 40% of the US construction workforce experiences high-level fatigue, leading to poor judgment, increased risk of injuries, decreased productivity, and a lower quality of work.”
So, yes – our construction workers are both stressed and fatigued. And it’s likely causing them to make errors that put themselves and others at risk.
What causes fatigue for construction workers?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that fatigue is a “feeling of weariness, tiredness or lack of energy.” There are many reasons why American construction workers feel fatigued, drained, or tired while at work, such as:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Too much work
- Long work hours and days
- Repetitive duties
- Hard physical work tasks
- Work environment conditions
- Weather conditions
- Not enough breaks
A lot of people think of fatigue as being sleepy. While this can be true, fatigue means mentally and physically exhausted, which is beyond the feeling of sleepiness.
What are the symptoms of fatigue?
If you work in a mentally or physically demanding environment, one of the safest things you can do is look out for your coworkers. Fatigued workers are a danger to themselves and others. Here are some of the symptoms that you should keep an eye out for:
- Slow reaction times
- Impaired judgment
- Inability to focus, pay attention, or concentrate
- Difficulty remembering certain things
- Taking more effort and time to finish basic job tasks
- Decreased energy levels
- Low productivity
- Issues with thinking clearly
- Getting injured more often
If you notice a coworker is consistently falling behind or making mistakes, say something to him or her. That colleague may be suffering from fatigue, and should probably speak with a doctor.
What causes stress for construction workers?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as a “state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.” Just like fatigue, there are many things that can cause stress for construction workers. The following are some common examples of what typically stresses out individuals in this industry:
- Hostile work environment
- Large workload
- Not enough time to get the work done
- Arguments and disagreements between coworkers
- Family issues
- Not having much time off
- Lack of training or knowing what to do
- Lack of support
- Job dissatisfaction
- Poor communication
What are the symptoms of stress?
Almost everyone has been stressed at some point in their lives, but it’s not always easy to recognize the effects on yourself or other people. What you chalk up to a “bad day” may actually be the result of long-term stress. A few of the most common symptoms of stress include:
- Isolation or avoiding people
- Reduced energy
- Focus and concentrating problems
- Memory issues
- Poor judgment
When a person becomes extremely stressed, they may have panic attacks, shortness of breath, blurry vision, high blood pressure, chest pains, nausea, rashes, and more.
The types of injuries that may result from fatigue and stress
If you are constantly stressed and fatigued while working, there is a good chance that accidents will occur, which can lead to severe and catastrophic injuries. These are some of the injuries and other health conditions that you may be at risk of experiencing on the job during this time:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head and skull injury
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
- Severe and permanent bruising
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Facial, eye, and dental injuries
- Mental and psychological injuries
- Loss of limb or amputation
- Heart attack
When a person is severely fatigued and stressed, they are more likely to make careless mistakes and errors. As a result, they may drop an object, perform the wrong task, spill something, trip and fall, and more. It only takes one minor mistake to cause a severe and deadly accident for everyone close by.
How to prevent fatigue and stress for construction workers in Pittsburgh, PA
Awareness and education are very important when it comes to fatigue and stress among construction workers. This allows coworkers and employers to notice signs that an individual may need time to rest or take a break to avoid a construction accident. While fatigue and stress could be coming from their family and home life, there are ways that employers and workers can work together to prevent fatigue and stress in the construction workplace, which we will list below.
- Require that workers get at least 10 to 12 hours of time off or rest hours between shifts.
- Put limits on how many days or hours that a worker can work each week or month.
- Include stress and fatigue awareness and management in training.
- Teach ways to look out for extreme stress and fatigue warning signs at work.
- Allow employees to anonymously report any work-related problems or concerns they are having.
- Provide several scheduled breaks for employees to eat, drink, and rest. Make sure they are taking these breaks, especially in hot weather.
- Rotate employees on different tasks.
- During your time off, give yourself time to relax, rest, and have fun before going back to work.
- Try to maintain a continuous, regular sleep schedule. For example, you should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep around the same time each night.
- Know when your body is exhausted or overstressed and listen to it.
- Take a minute to breathe whenever you need to at work.
- When you have a break, eat something healthy and balanced and make sure you drink plenty of fluids. A poor diet that consists of only vending machine food will lead to more stress and fatigue.
- Change up your daily work duties with your coworkers. Doing the same repetitive tasks can become tiring and stressful.
If you suffer injuries from a construction accident due to fatigue and stress, reach out to the Pittsburgh construction accident lawyers at Carmody & Ging at your earliest opportunity. Our team is experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable when it comes to the laws surrounding these types of accidents, and we will do whatever it takes to secure the best results possible for your case. Please call our office or complete our contact form today to learn more about how we can assist you through the legal process.