While some people are enjoying the benefits of being able to work from home, this luxury isn’t available to everyone. For many workers, making a living means risking exposure to an illness that has already claimed the lives of over 200,000 Americans. Construction workers are familiar with this risk—besides being required to go to a job site, their duties also require them to work in close proximity to other people.
Now, a new study has revealed something startling: construction workers have a five-fold increased risk of COVID-19 hospitalization when compared with workers in other occupations.
About the Texas Construction Coronavirus Study
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the Santa Fe Institute, an organization that has a stated mission of using research to understand the complex relationships and patterns that shape the world.
The group stated the following reason for its research:
"Policy makers have relaxed restrictions for certain nonessential industries, including construction, jeopardizing the effectiveness of social distancing measures and putting already at-risk populations at greater risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection."
It also stated that Latinx communities are highly represented among Texas construction workers. Adding to the dangers of this community’s increased exposure to COVID-19 are its high-risk comorbidities and lack of access to health care.
The study’s objective was to identify the relationship between construction workers and hospitalizations for COVID-19. To assess this, it used mathematical models of COVID-19 transmission and applied it according to age and risk group, with construction workers being examined as a group. It was based on residents in the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, a population of 2.17 million.
What the Texas COVID-19 Construction Study Found
The data revealed that residential COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 0.38 per 1,000 residents to 1.5 per 1,000 residents through mid-August of 2020. Construction worker COVID-19 hospitalization rates eclipsed these during the same period, growing from 0.22 per 1,000 construction workers to 9.3 per 1,000 construction workers. In other words, construction workers were found to be at a 4.9 times higher risk of requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 when compared with other occupations.
The study concluded that unrestricted work in the construction industry is associated with:
- Increased risk to workers
- Higher levels of community transmission
- Health disparities among members of racial and ethnic minority groups
What These Findings Mean for Workers
Importantly, the researches emphasize that the spread of COVID-19 in the construction industry was mitigated thanks to cleaning equipment, wearing protective equipment, limited workers at worksites, and increased health surveillance. While unrestricted construction work likely placed workers in danger, the problem would have likely been significantly worse without safety precautions. In fact, the researchers estimate that these practices decreased cases by up to 50 percent.
While safety likely reduced transmission of COVID-19 at construction sites, this study reveals an important fact: workers are still facing significant risks during this crisis. When they face a serious virus risk at work, they also risk bringing it back to their communities. Employers are responsible for protecting construction workers, and the numbers show that they’re failing to do enough in central Texas and its Latinx communities.
If you believe that your illness could have been prevented or your loved one got sick while working in construction, call our COVID-19 work injury lawyers today at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation.