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Experts link psychosocial issues to high prevalence of injuries in construction

Posted On: Feb. 15, 2023 11:00 AM CST


While the high-risk construction industry and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have zeroed in on mitigating injuries that stem from such incidents as falls and electrocutions, a panel of safety experts says one risk factor may be overlooked in construction in particular: psychosocial factors.

At the root of the most-fatal incidents could be issues related to “the social, organizational, and managerial features of a job that affect the worker’s feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and physiology,” according to four occupational health experts, writing in a Wednesday blog post for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“Working conditions such as high demands, low control over work tasks, lack of support from a supervisor or coworkers, and job dissatisfaction are all examples of negative psychosocial factors that can cause adverse health effects,” the authors wrote.

Such issues can lead to such factors as heightened stress, higher injury rates, more frequent incidents, and higher susceptibility to musculoskeletal disorders, according to the post.

Musculoskeletal disorders, which account for 20% of nonfatal construction injuries, are particularly risky and connected to psychosocial factors, they wrote. “Stress and adverse psychosocial factors can make workers more prone to injury and negatively impact the functioning of multiple organ systems.”

“Research focused on psychosocial factors and the construction industry has found strong evidence that low job satisfaction, high perceived job stress and unrealistic job goals or expectations, and perceived lack of control over the work environment resulted in greater lower back and neck or shoulder pain among construction workers,” the authors wrote.