Georgia’s construction workers face many on-the-job hazards. While falls, electrocutions and other types of serious injuries are all common among those in this line of work, many construction workers also face heightened chemical exposure risks.
Some of the chemicals and toxins construction workers come in contact with on the job have the potential to cause serious, potentially life-threatening conditions and ailments.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that poses a serious risk to construction workers. When workers come in contact with asbestos-containing materials during renovations or demolitions, tiny asbestos fibers become airborne. Inhaling these fibers may cause severe health issues, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Wearing proper respiratory protection and avoiding the use of asbestos-containing materials helps mitigate risks.
Lead-based paints were common in older buildings. When these structures undergo renovation or demolition, they may release lead dust and fumes into the air. Lead poisoning can have devastating effects on health, particularly in children and pregnant women.
Construction sites often involve the use of dangerous chemicals, from solvents and paints to adhesives and cleaning agents. Inadequate ventilation or improper handling can result in toxic fumes and skin exposure. Employers can help reduce risks by training workers about chemical hazards and safe handling procedures.
Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in materials like sand, concrete and stone. Cutting, grinding or drilling these materials generates fine silica dust particles. Inhalation of silica dust may cause silicosis, a severe lung disease.
Construction equipment and vehicles often run on gasoline or diesel engines, which emit carbon monoxide gas. Poorly ventilated areas may trap this harmful gas, leading to poisoning and even death.
Studies show that, while construction workers face heightened toxic exposure risks, so, too, do their loved ones. Construction workers’ homes have higher concentrations of hazardous substances than the homes of employees in many other lines of work, including workers in janitorial or automotive repair positions.