Stress and the Construction Worker

Stress is as much a part of life as breathing, eating, and sleeping. A little stress can be a factor in achieving goals, meeting deadlines, and can motivate workers to do a good job. On the other hand, stress can create a prison of overwhelm and dread. Many workers are faced with job-related stress on a daily basis. Construction workers are no exception. Studies show that blue-collar industries, i.e. construction, are more stressful than white-collar industries.

While managing job-related stress is important in all types of employment, it is essential among construction workers because a mistake can fatal. Mental stress can have a domino effect on the construction worker’s life and quality of work. Here are just some of the ways stress can affect construction workers:

  • Lessens the ability to concentrate and focus on the job
  • Reduces the ability to effectively interact with co-workers and management
  • Contributes to worry, which in turn causes insomnia, poor sleep patterns, and eventually sleep deprivation
  • Prolonged periods of poor sleep caused by stress contributes to a weakened physical condition and reduced reaction times
  • Leads to poor dietary habits
  • Causes low morale
  • Leads to headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks.
  • Contributes to health problems, particularly heart attacks and strokes

In order to reduce the stress on construction workers, employers should institute adequate work breaks to lessen fatigue. Employees should make the most of these work breaks in order to “refresh” mentally by relaxing, speaking to co-workers about non-work related topics, or taking a short walk.

Employees also should make the effort to follow an exercise routine. Construction is already a physically demanding job. However, engaging in aerobic exercise or even regular meditation can reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety to the point where one is able to improve sleep, and manage stress far more effectively. Adopting a healthy diet that is high in fiber, protein, and low in sugar, and limit or avoid processed foods can also help to reduce stress.

Mental stress can result in injury on the construction job site. A stressful working environment also may interfere with the ability or willingness of construction workers to practice safety practices on the job. In this respect, it is important that employers have construction workers engage in additional safety training.

Stress is a part of life which cannot be wholly avoided. In many ways, it is a needed part of life; however, when it is in a constant state it can prove physically and mentally detrimental to construction workers. The way to combat this problem is by finding adequate ways of handling stress so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and cause physical, emotional, and mental damage.

 

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