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Delaware Healthy Workplaces

Healthy Workplaces - Employers

Construction has one of the highest rates of work-related exposures to hazardous conditions. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has documented at least 77 toxic agents on construction sites, and also found elevated death rates as a result of cancer and other diseases among construction workers.

Some of the more common health hazards observed on construction sites include:

  • Dusts
    • Silica, concrete, soil, gypsum and other materials can contribute to dusty environments.
  • Fumes
    • Asphalt fumes from roofing and road work, welding fumes from metal fabrication and construction and other sources pose hazards to those working with the materials and others on the site.
  • Hazardous Chemicals
    • Solvents, epoxy resins, paints and other chemicals can pose hazards to workers through inhalation, skin contact and other exposure routes.
  • Vehicles and Equipment
    • Construction workers risk exposure to emissions and the physical hazards of working around vehicles and equipment.

There appears to be a general lack of awareness on construction sites of these hazards, with few, if any, safety controls used to protect workers. This is especially true because many chemical hazards are "hidden" in dusts, such as concrete and sand, which are not perceived by many workers and contractors to be hazardous.

Construction workers are at increased risk of suffering from several serious health conditions:

  • Certain cancers
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Dermatological conditions
  • Occupational lung diseases

Since the health and safety issues in the construction sector are complex and evolving, there is a need for an integrated approach to health and safety issues in order to have a significant and measurable impact on construction safety and health. There needs to be greater hazard communication to workers, contractors, and union representatives about construction health hazards.

Learn more about the products and materials you are working with and how to protect yourself.

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Preventing Silicosis
and Deaths in
Construction Workers


Control of
Hazardous Dust
During Tuckpointing


Asphalt Fumes

OSHA Occupational
Chemical Database