Study: Construction workers suffer mental illness due to injuries, pain

Work-related injuries and pain are common among construction workers, and based on the findings of one study, may lead to mental issues.

Construction workers and laborers perform a range of duties at worksites in New York City, and throughout the state. Due to the nature of their work, and workplace hazards, people in this industry frequently suffer work-related injuries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an injury rate of 3.6 injuries requiring time off of work per 100 full-time construction workers in 2014. One study indicates that, in addition to physical injuries, construction workers may also develop mental health issues as a result of being injured on the job and work-associated pain.

Examining the link between work injuries and mental distress

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study to examine the link between mental health problems and occupational injuries in construction workers and laborers. To do this, they performed a cross-sectional mental health assessment in a sample of construction workers.

The researchers first asked 172 participants from four large New England construction sites to complete a questionnaire. These questionnaires assessed their work-related injuries, musculoskeletal pain, anxiety and depression, among other things. Then, they conducted 20 minute structured psychiatric interviews with a selection of the participants whose questionnaires indicated they were suffering from mental distress.

Mental distress associated with injuries and pain

Based on the study's findings, there is a correlation between self-reported pain, work-related injuries and mental distress in construction workers. Researchers found a 16 percent prevalence of mental distress in the study's participants. Follow up clinical interviews with the participants determined that nine out of 10 of these workers met the criteria for mental disorders.

Mental illnesses could impede workers' recoveries, or put them at risk for suffering additional injuries. As a result, they may need more time off of work, or additional medical treatment. If their mental conditions develop secondarily to an occupational injury, their treatment may be covered through workers' compensation benefits. According to the New York State Workers' Compensation Board, psychological treatment is covered with a referral. In general, workers in the state cannot be denied these types of benefits, which may include medical coverage and supplemental pay, due to carelessness.

Seeking legal guidance

Receiving benefits for injuries resulting from workplace accidents is generally straightforward for construction workers in New York, and elsewhere. The process may be complicated, however, for to obtain benefits for mental illnesses resulting from work-related injuries and pain. As such, it may benefit construction workers who have been injured on the job to work with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their rights, and help guide them through the process so they receive the help they need and are entitled to.