Health Hazards in Construction

If you need an evaluation of health hazards at your construction site discussed in this article call us at 1-800-344-4414 or email us at for details and a free estimate.


Written by Henry P. Shotwell, Ph.D., CIH, Vice-President

When we think of construction sites, especially those involving infrastructure like bridges, tunnels and highways, we usually picture heavy equipment like bulldozers, excavators, steamrollers and heavy duty dump trucks. These visible signs of construction activity tend to make us think more of safety problems than of health hazards. But the reality is that there can be just as many, if not more, health-related hazards then there are safety ones.

Construction activities are on-going throughout the year. That means that construction workers on infrastructure projects will have to deal with extremes of heat and cold temperatures in most parts of the country. Frostbite and hypothermia are serious hazards not only in Alaska but also in mountainous areas. Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion are problems not only in desert Southwest and southern Florida, but in every part of the country where summertime temperatures can rise into the 80’s and 90’s.

There are biological hazards as well. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are three common plants that pose health risks. Wild dogs, rats, snakes, ticks (Lyme Disease), mosquitos, and bees, hornets and wasps can also be significant health hazards on a work site.

There is also potential for chemical exposures on a construction site. Under dry conditions, dust is usually generated by bulldozing and excavating. Are the soil particles that make up the dust cloud coated with a hazardous chemical like benzo-x-pyrene (a potent carcinogen found in petroleum residue)? Even if the particles of dust are non-hazardous, working in a dusty environment can produce eye, nose and throat irritation. Gasoline, commonly found on-site, poses risks to skin and lungs. So does the crushing or cutting concrete, which emits crystalline silica, a respirable carcinogen, into the air. Welders protect themselves against the UV light produced while welding. What about bystanders? Are they protected or kept at a safe distance from the welding or cutting operation?

Atlantic Environmental’s highly trained and experienced staff can help you produce a hazard assessment of your construction project which will identify not only the physical hazards involved, but also the chemical and biological ones, as well. Armed with this information, you will be able to provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to your exposed employees and site visitors.

For further information, call us at 1-800-344-4414 or e-mail us at

Our primary service areas for Health Hazards in Construction Consulting are: NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, (Boston) MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, (Chicago) IL, VA, IN, (Atlanta) GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, (Dallas, Ft Worth) TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.