Supporting an Aging Workforce: Onsite Health Clinics’ Role in Construction Sites
The American workforce is getting older, and this trend shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
A summer 2023 survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that one-third of workers expect to retire at age 70 or later, or not retire at all. More than two-fifths of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings, U.S. Census data shows, and retirement balances for younger generations aren’t looking much more promising.
A National Association of Home Builders analysis of data from the 2021 American Community Survey found that the median age of construction workers is 42 — one year older than the median age of a typical worker in the United States.
Regionally, these numbers differed greatly, with half of all construction workers in South Dakota and Utah being under 38 years old, but in Maine and Vermont the median age of construction workers is 47.
Add all that information to the assertion that the American construction industry faced an extreme labor shortage in 2023 — with an estimated 546,000 additional workers needed on top of the normal pace of hiring to fill all needed vacancies, according to an outlook from Associated Builders and Contractors.
These trends present unique challenges to companies, especially as they relate to managing ever-increasing costs for employee healthcare.
The Aging Workforce Challenge in Construction
Construction is a dangerous industry for workers. In 2021, there were 2.5 injuries for every 100 construction workers in the United States, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). There were 21,400 nonfatal workplace injuries due to slips, trips and falls on construction sites in 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
As workers age, the 2023 Travelers Injury Impact Report shows, their risk of job-related injury decreases, but the cost of those injuries skyrockets. Workers aged 60 and older had a per-claim cost nearly 15% more than employees between the ages of 35 and 49, and approximately 140% more than employees 18 to 24 years old.
In addition to the risk of on-the-job injuries, aging construction workers present with more frequent instances of chronic and acute health conditions, including diabetes, heart attacks and high cholesterol. This makes caring for the health and wellbeing of those workers — while controlling the cost of that healthcare — essential for the overall profitability and survival of companies.
How Onsite Health Clinics Can Help
Onsite health clinics for construction sites can help you keep your workers safe and healthy while helping you decrease instances of workers’ compensation claims and OSHA recordables, as well as decreasing worker healthcare costs. Workers receive high-quality care from skilled professionals, conveniently located at your jobsite.
Some of the benefits of choosing an onsite health clinic for your construction site include:
Give Workers Prompt Care
The faster an injured worker can have their condition evaluated and begin treatment, the faster they’ll recover, and the better their overall health outcomes will be.
An onsite clinic staffed by experienced medical professionals can assess injured workers and give them onsite treatment that avoids the need for an emergency room visit. When necessary, workers who require offsite care can be routed to the appropriate facility, and notes regarding their condition can be forwarded to the offsite provider for faster evaluation and treatment.
Additionally, workers who have non-work-related health concerns can receive care during their breaks or before and after their shift, helping identify conditions that could need further medical treatment.
Improve Worksite Safety
Ensuring your workers are paying attention to basic workplace safety protocols, including the use of PPE, is key to reducing instances of accidents. Workers who have been in the industry for decades may run the risk of becoming lax in their adherence to safety procedures and may be more at risk of injury.
Your onsite clinic can provide an extra set of eyes, as well as a source of long-term data about how, when and where injuries happen, allowing you to remind workers of the precautions they must take to keep everyone safe.
Drug and alcohol use at and outside of work can also decrease the safety of your workforce. Using your onsite clinic as a space to conduct drug and alcohol tests — pre-employment, randomly and when you suspect someone is under the influence at work — allows you to intervene when necessary and reduce risks to your workers.
Control Healthcare Costs
Sending every worker who’s injured on the job for care offsite is expensive — and costs are unpredictable.
A worker who gets evaluated at an emergency room may receive care they don’t need, being sent for unnecessary testing and treatment. This causes your costs related to that worker’s injury to skyrocket and may delay their return to duties.
For those workers whose injuries can be treated at your onsite clinic, you know that their healthcare costs are already included in what you pay to maintain your clinic — no surprises. When a worker needs offsite care, your onsite care team can help keep tabs on the workers’ treatment plan and ensure they receive only necessary care. This helps keep injury-related costs low while making sure your worker receives the care they need to get better.
Improve Worker Morale
Workers who feel that you care about their health and wellbeing are more likely to give you their most quality work. They will see the addition of an onsite clinic as a sign that you take their safety at work seriously.
When workers enjoy coming to work and want to do their best, they are more likely to pay attention to the tasks they’re completing and, as a result, are less likely to make careless mistakes that could lead to injury. Additionally, your workers will be more likely to look out for their coworkers, helping everyone head off potential accidents.
Key Features of Onsite Health Clinics for Construction Sites
Every worksite’s needs are different, but onsite health clinics for construction sites offer customizable solutions to help you give workers the care they deserve. Some common things an onsite health clinic can provide include:
Immediate Injury Assessment and Treatment
Onsite clinic staff are available whenever your workers are on the job — up to 24/7 — giving them immediate access to skilled medical professionals who can assess their condition and treat injuries when necessary. Workers whose injuries require more care can be routed to the appropriate level and type of offsite care, giving them peace of mind knowing they’re being taken care of.
Preventative Healthcare Services
Your onsite or mobile clinic isn’t limited to just providing care for work-related injuries and illnesses. Onsite health clinics at construction sites can offer convenient access to many of the same services your workers see their primary care physicians for, including immunizations and screening for chronic conditions.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
A drug- and alcohol-free construction site is a safe construction site, and your onsite clinic can help you conveniently screen workers for potential drug and alcohol use. Test potential workers before they begin work, set up a random testing program and test workers who you suspect may be at work under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Having your drug and alcohol testing program at your worksite increases worker compliance, reduces the need for time off work or travel, and boosts the integrity of your test results.
Integrated Injury Prevention
The best way to reduce your work-related healthcare costs is to prevent injuries before they happen. With specialized industrial athletic trainers at your onsite clinic, your workers can receive targeted interventions to help them avoid injuries.
Integrated injury prevention specialists routinely walk your worksite, observing the way your workers move and making recommendations to help them work more safely. Toolbox talks remind your workers of prevention steps they can take to protect themselves and their coworkers. This helps to build a culture of safety at your worksite, reducing the potential for injuries.
Worker Claims Management
Managing all the paperwork and deadlines that comes with a workers’ compensation claim or OSHA recordable can be a challenge. Missing one deadline or misplacing a document could cause your costs to increase.
The team at your onsite clinic can help you manage these claims, staying on top of deadlines and keeping in contact with your injured worker regarding their progress. They also can evaluate the offsite care recommendations your workers receive, minimizing the chances of costly overprescription or unnecessary treatment.
Your Partner in Onsite Health Clinics for Construction Sites
Your workers deserve exceptional care for all their work-related and non-work-related health concerns, especially after providing years of loyal service to your company. With an onsite clinic from Medcor, your workers get the care they need, when they need it, while you save on the costs of unnecessary offsite treatment. Speak with an advocate today.