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Understanding the Importance of Worker Wellness in the Construction Space

Construction firms in the sector can prevent a significant percentage of injuries by rolling out robust EHS programs featuring worker wellness components.

Employee wellness programs are standard across organizations in most industries. In fact, approximately 70 percent of American businesses support these preventive initiatives, according to research from UnitedHealthcare.

However, these programs disproportionately benefit corporate workers, as environmental health and safety teams often focus on developing and deploying employee wellness efforts aimed at those working in office suites. This is unfortunate for workers navigating more physically demanding duties - most notably, construction professionals. 

Worker injuries and fatalities are common in the construction space. Out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2017, 971 or 20.7% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths last year were in construction, the latest year for which Bureau of Labor Statistics data was available. Firms in the sector can prevent a significant percentage of these terrible incidents by rolling out robust EHS programs featuring worker wellness components. 

How do such initiatives help reduce risk and improve the business? Here are three examples.

Improved ProductivityConstruction Safety-1

The American construction workforce is aging rapidly, analysts for the National Association of Homebuilders found. The median age for construction professionals in the U.S. is 42, which means most of the individuals staffing worksites across the country are on the cusp of physical decline. This biological reality, combined with the increased risk for degenerative disease associated with manual work, indicates that many construction employees are struggling mightily to complete their everyday duties. 

Wellness initiatives help counteract the symptoms of aging and physical overexertion, allowing workers to unlock new capabilities and ultimately improve their productivity, according to the National Safety Council. For instance, one builder based in Pittsfield, Maine helped its employees obtain the resources needed to lose weight and quit smoking, an effort that ultimately improved worker health and helped the construction company reach new heights. Employee wellness programs help reduce injuries.Employee wellness programs help reduce injuries.

Reduced Absenteeism

Absenteeism is an immense issue for organizations across all sectors, including the construction space which maintains an absence rate of 2.8 missed days of work per employee, according to the BLS. Each of these nonappearances comes with an estimated cost of more than $2,600, according to research from Circadian. This is, of course, less than ideal for modern construction companies, many of which already maintain thin margins.

Employee wellness initiatives help reduce instances of absenteeism by providing employees with resources designed to keep them in good health. Many construction workers avoid accessing their health care plans and instead embrace self-care, a strategy that can result in missed work days, Construction Magazine reported. Wellness programs encourage them to take advantage of their employer-provided offerings and adopt personal habits that promote health and productivity.

Better Worksite Morale

Single workplace injuries ripple across entire organizations, reducing the morale of entire workforces. This is especially true in the construction sector, where employees are often party to serious accidents. Falling staff sentiment can, of course, bring down the bottom line, making morale a mission-critical issue for business leaders.

Here is yet another operational area ripe for improvement via wellness programs, which not only reduce instances of injury but also offer symbolic benefits, communicating to workers that maintaining their health and safety is a real priority, according to Construction Executive.

Is your construction firm interested in rolling out an impactful employee wellness initiative? Consider connecting with ProcessMAP today, as our innovative suite of EHS tools allows builders of all sizes to collect and analyze injury data while addressing ancillary issues such as regulatory compliance and profitability.

Connect with us today to learn more about our work in the construction space.

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