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Air quality and construction worker health

One of the reasons why some people enjoy working in construction is that they aren’t stuck behind a desk all day.

However, as much as workers might enjoy being outside, there are reasons to be cautious. In many places, including right here in New York City, air quality can pose a threat to worker safety.

What are the risks?

Air quality varies based on weather, pollution and land use. Using the air quality index (AQI), people can see how safe or harmful the air is in a specific place. If AQI is low, it means the air quality is good, and there are minimal threats to a person’s health if they are working outside.

On the other hand, a high AQI means that the air is more polluted and presents a risk of severe health problems. Some of these problems include:

  • Respiratory illness
  • Cardiac events
  • Worsening asthma
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Cancer

These conditions can range from being uncomfortable to being deadly. Thus, it is crucial for anyone who works outside to have proper protection from bad air quality.

Working safely when air quality is poor

If you are a construction worker, keep an eye on the air quality index. This number changes all the time based on weather conditions and air pollution. In New York City, the air is usually quite clean. However, it is not unusual for the AQI to rise because of factors like population and traffic congestion.

On days when air quality is poor, workers can try to protect themselves from the harmful effects of pollution to the extent possible. For example, workers can wear masks, ideally equipped with respirators. These masks may protect wearers from breathing in chemicals and other harmful particles in the air.

However, construction employers, contractors and property owners are responsible for providing safe working conditions. These decision-makers should understand the dangers of air pollution and the effect it can have on workers. They should be prepared to provide the protective gear and safe spaces that workers need to stay safe.

Parties who fail to do this can put a person’s life in danger and may be responsible for damages. Discussing this possibility with an attorney can be a good idea for construction workers who have suffered an injury or illness due to air pollution.

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