Anxiety and depression in construction workers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Image from CPWR

Silver Spring, MD — Symptoms of anxiety and depression among construction workers have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among women and workers living in poverty, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

Anxiety and depression are of particular importance in the construction industry, CPWR notes, citing a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that concluded male construction workers have one of the highest suicide rates among all industries and are at four times greater risk than the general public.

Using 2011-2018 and 2020 data from the National Health Interview Survey, researchers examined self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression among construction workers to uncover any potential patterns and changes amid the pandemic. During the time frame prior to the pandemic, the number of construction workers who reported feeling anxious at least once a month rose 20%.

Among a subset of nearly 1,300 construction workers who were surveyed in both 2019 and 2020, 43% reported a rise in the level or frequency of anxiety/depression feelings between the two years. Those increased feelings were most prevalent among workers whose family incomes were below the poverty line (61%), female workers (50%) and those ages 18-54 (46%).

The 2020 data shows that symptoms of or medication use for anxiety/depression were nearly three times higher for workers who used prescription opioids in the past year (39%) compared with those who did not (14%).

Construction employers can act by sharing resources with their workers. CPWR offers resources on suicide prevention and preventing opioid deaths, while NIOSH has a webpage on stress at work.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19: Study explores which face mask combinations, modifications work best

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
COVID-19: Study explores face mask modifications
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Arlington, VA — Adding a brace or wearing a cloth face mask over a medical mask increases protection against aerosols carrying viruses – including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, results of a recent NIOSH study suggest.

Researchers tested, on a sample of humans and mannequins, two types of medical masks and three varieties of cloth masks purchased online. The researchers also looked at multiple mask fit modifications while simulating coughs and exhalations through a source control measurement system.

Findings show that using a brace over a medical mask blocked about 99% of exhaled aerosols and 95% of cough aerosols. Wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask prevented the passage of around 91% of exhaled aerosols and 85% of cough aerosols.

Nonmodified medical masks, meanwhile, blocked about 56% of cough aerosols and 42% of exhaled aerosols. Use of earloop toggles or an earloop strap, or knotting and tucking the mask enhanced aerosol-blocking performance. Crossing earloops or placing a bracket under the mask didn’t improve performance.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been considerable confusion about the most effective use of facemasks, especially among the general public, to reduce the spread of infection,” Ann Marie Pettis, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, said in a press release. “The NIOSH study findings are important and timely because they identify specific, practical combinations of facemasks and mask modifications that may improve mask seal and thereby measurably reduce the expulsion of infectious aerosols into the environment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises choosing facemasks that:

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Completely cover the user’s nose, mouth and chin
  • Fit snugly against the side of one’s face with no gaps
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking from the top of the mask

The study was published online Dec. 15 in the American Journal of Infection Control, APIC’s official, peer-reviewed journal.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Exhausted nation: Americans more tired than ever, survey finds

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

New York — Do you feel like you’re constantly running on fumes? If so, it’s not just you. Around 3 out of 5 U.S. adults say they feel more tired now than they’ve ever been and blame it on additional time spent at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, results of a recent survey show.

Researchers from marketing research company OnePoll surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults to learn about the impacts the pandemic is having on their energy levels, as well as any accompanying side effects. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they feel unfocused or disjointed, and that taking a brief nap isn’t a “viable solution.” More than half of the respondents (55%) said no amount of rest helps them feel focused, while slightly more (56%) believe poor sleep schedules have led to low energy levels.

Other findings:

  • 69% of the respondents said working from home has disrupted their sleep schedule.
  • Long work hours (53%), staying indoors during lockdowns (52%), too much screen time (46%) and lack of a regular routine (41%) were cited as the leading causes for prolonged feelings of exhaustion.
  • Among the participants working from home, 34% said many of the activities that typically boost their energy levels aren’t possible during the pandemic.
  • 3 out of 5 respondents said video conferences are more draining than in-person meetings.

The American Sleep Association offers tips for getting a better night’s sleep.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

SAMHSA working to turn National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to three-digit number

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Photo: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Rockville, MD — The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is helping to transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a three-digit number – 988.

According to a press release, Congress designated the updated dialing code in 2020 and the Department of Health and Human Services, through SAMHSA, is investing $282 million for the transition. That funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

The 988 number is scheduled to be available for calling, texting or chatting nationwide beginning in July.

“Converting to this easy-to-remember, three-digit number will strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network, providing the public with easier access to lifesaving services,” the release states. “The Lifeline currently helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day.”

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SAMHSA notes that suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death nationally in 2019. It was also the second-leading cause of death among young people that year.

CDC analysis published in 2020 and using 2016 data found that men in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction had a suicide rate of 54.2 per 100,000 workers. The overall average rate for men was 27.4. In addition, men and women in construction and extraction had suicide rates of 49.4 and 25.5, respectively.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 year-round at (800) 273-8255 (TALK).


McCraren Compliance offers training and programs to support companies in suicide awareness and prevention. Contact us for additional information to help you with this very important workplace safety.

Office spaces can be redesigned for greater wellness benefits, researchers say

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Tucson, AZ — Reimagined office spaces can help reduce worker stress and enhance overall well-being, a pair of University of Arizona researchers say in a recently published paper.

The researchers propose a framework based on seven areas for designing the built environment for well-being: resiliency, environment, movement, relationships, sleep, spirituality and nutrition.

Paper co-author Esther Sternberg, a professor of medicine and a member of the UA BIO5 Institute, drew on research conducted during her tenure with the General Services Administration. Those studies show that office layout can encourage workers to move more often, thereby reducing stress and improving sleep.

The paper cites many other studies, “such as those showing the sleep-improving effects of natural light, the well-being benefits of nature and the health benefits of proper building air circulation, which can improve cognitive functioning and reduce fatigue by reducing pollutants.”

Sternberg adds: “This paper is a merging of two fields: integrative health and the built environment. The concept of designing the built environment for physical health and emotional well-being has been around for decades, but wasn’t really the focus across all design fields until very recently.

“COVID-19 shone a very bright spotlight on designing for mental health because in the wake of the pandemic, there is a pandemic of mental health, of stress, of anxiety around the world. The built environment can play a very important role in reducing stress and enhancing all those elements of integrative health.”

The paper is scheduled for print in the November issue of the journal Building and Environment.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Almost 2 million lives lost annually to workplace exposures

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
long-working-hours.jpg
Photo: World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland — Work-related injuries and illnesses resulted in 1.9 million worker deaths worldwide in 2016, according to estimates recently released by the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization.

In a report issued Sept. 17, the organizations say the majority of the deaths were linked to cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Workplace injuries accounted for 19% of the deaths, or around 360,000.

“It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. “Our report is a wake-up call to countries and businesses to improve and protect the health and safety of workers by honoring their commitments to provide universal coverage of occupational health and safety services.”

WHO and ILO looked at 19 workplace risk factors, including long working hours and exposure to air pollution and noise, as well as ergonomic risk factors. Working long hours contributed to an estimated 750,000 deaths. Exposure to air pollution (i.e., particulate matter, fumes or gases) was linked to 450,000 deaths.

“These estimates provide important information on the work-related burden of disease,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in the release, “and this information can help to shape policies and practices to create healthier and safer workplaces. Governments, employers and workers can all take actions to reduce exposure to risk factors at the workplace. Risk factors can also be reduced or eliminated through changes in work patterns and systems. As a last resort, personal protective equipment can also help to protect workers whose jobs mean they cannot avoid exposure.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA issues updated guidance on COVID-19

First published by OSHA

U.S. Department of Labor issues updated guidance on protecting
unvaccinated and other at-risk workers from the coronavirus

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued updated guidance to help employers protect workers from the coronavirus. The updated guidance reflects developments in science and data, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 guidance issued July 27.

The updated guidance expands information on appropriate measures for protecting workers in higher-risk workplaces with mixed-vaccination status workers, particularly for industries such as manufacturing; meat, seafood and poultry processing; high volume retail and grocery; and agricultural processing, where there is often prolonged close contact with other workers and/or non-workers.

OSHA’s latest guidance:

  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of substantial or high community transmission wear masks in order to protect unvaccinated workers;
  • Recommends that fully vaccinated workers who have close contacts with people with coronavirus wear masks for up to 14 days unless they have a negative coronavirus test at least 3-5 days after such contact;
  • Clarifies recommendations to protect unvaccinated workers and other at-risk workers in manufacturing, meat and poultry processing, seafood processing and agricultural processing; and
  • Links to the latest guidance on K-12 schools and CDC statements on public transit.

OSHA continues to emphasize that vaccination is the optimal step to protect workers and encourages employers to engage with workers and their representatives to implement multi-layered approaches to protect unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers from the coronavirus.

As part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to review the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard every 30-days, OSHA also said that the safeguards set forth by the standard remain more important than ever. After reviewing the latest guidance, science and data, and consulting with the CDC and partners, OSHA has determined the requirements of the healthcare ETS remain necessary to address the grave danger of the coronavirus in healthcare. OSHA will continue to monitor and assess the need for changes in the healthcare ETS each month.

Our priority is the safety and health of workers, and we will continue to enforce the law to ensure workers are protected from the virus while they are on the job, including through OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on COVID.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Mental illness an ‘unrecognized crisis’ among miners with black lung, study shows

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Charlottesville, VA — Coal miners with black lung disease commonly face various mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide, results of a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Virginia show.

The researchers examined data from more than 2,800 coal miners who were evaluated for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder through a voluntary survey at Stone Mountain Health Services, a black lung clinic in Jonesville, VA. The average age of the participants – an overwhelming majority of whom were white males – was 66.

More than 1 out of 3 participants reported symptoms consistent with a major depressive disorder (37.4%) or had clinically significant anxiety (38.9%). Additionally, 26.2% exhibited symptoms of PTSD and 11.4% had considered suicide in the past year. The percentage of suicidal thoughts among all men in Virginia is 2.9.

The researchers note that the percentage “of mental illness far exceeded those documented in coal mining populations internationally.” Miners who need supplemental oxygen to assist with breathing showed accelerated rates of suicidal thoughts (15.9%), anxiety (47.7%) and depression (48.5%).

“This study highlights the unrecognized crisis of mental illness in miners that warrants urgent attention, resources and expanded care,” Drew Harris, lead study author and pulmonary medicine expert at UVA Health, said in a press release, adding that the percentage of “mental illness identified in this large population of U.S. coal miners is shocking. Improved screening and treatment of mental illness in this population is an urgent, unmet need that warrants urgent action.”

Also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, black lung is a deadly but preventable condition. Rates of black lung disease have more than doubled over the past 15 years, says NIOSH, which adds that symptoms may include coughing, excessive phlegm, shortness of breath, labored breathing and chest tightness.

The agency provides free, confidential health screenings through its Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.

The study was published online May 25 in JAMA Network Open.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Construction workers at higher risk of COPD, study shows

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Silver Spring, MD — Workers in construction trades are at “significantly” higher risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than non-construction workers, according to the results of a recent study.

A team of researchers from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, Duke University and the University of Maryland studied nearly 18,000 participants in the Building Trades Medical Screening Program, or BTMed, to determine the risk of COPD among different trades. The study involved a larger cohort than a 2010 study of construction workers at U.S. Department of Energy nuclear facilities who participated in the BTMed. Those workers were found to have increased COPD risk, according to CPWR.

Overall, 13.4% of the participants had COPD and more than two-thirds of the cases were classified as moderate to severe. Compared with non-construction workers, the participants had a 1.34 times greater risk of COPD and a 1.61 times higher risk of severe COPD.

The trades with the highest level of risk were cement masons/bricklayers (2.36 times) and roofers (2.22).

Based on the new findings, the researchers say additional preventive measures are needed to reduce workplace exposures to vapors, gases, dusts and fumes to reduce the risk of COPD. In addition, workers who smoke can benefit from cessation support and advice.

The study was published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

57% of U.S. adults want masks required for all onsite workers

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Alexandria, VA — About 6 out of 10 U.S. adults believe masks should be a requirement for workers at onsite locations, even if those workers are fully vaccinated, according to the results of a recent Harris Poll survey commissioned by the American Staffing Association.

The Workforce Monitor online survey of 2,066 adults 18 and older was conducted June 10-14. Participants were asked for their opinions on worker behaviors and concerns as COVID-19 cases decrease nationally.

As more employers bring employees back to physical locations, 57% of respondents said onsite workers should be required to wear a mask – even if they’re vaccinated. Nearly two-thirds said workers have a right to know if their colleagues have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, 60% said it’s no one’s business if they’ve received the vaccine.

Broken down by race/ethnicity, Black (70%) and Hispanic/Latino (64%) respondents were most likely to believe masks should be required, while 50% of Whites/Caucasians reported the same.

Regionally, 61% of respondents in the West and Northeast said workers should be required to wear masks. The lowest percentage was in the Midwest (52%). The survey results show that 74% of those in the Northeast said employees should have the right to know if colleagues are vaccinated.

“As brick-and-mortar workplaces reopen, workers are anxious about being around their colleagues once again,” ASA President and CEO Richard Wahlquist said in a June 24 press release. “Employers must clearly communicate what steps they are taking to make their workplaces safe for their employees as they reopen.”


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.