South Carolina Construction Boom Leads to Worker Shortage, Possible Work Safety Risks

A building boom in South Carolina has prompted a construction worker shortage that is reported to be affecting us here much worse than in other states. That’s according to a recent survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. The word from companies in South Carolina is that they are having a much more difficult time finding construction work help than their counterparts in other areas. Respondents of the survey revealed they intend to keep hiring more workers, even though many here are already pulling higher wages and more overtime. constructionzonesign

Four out of five contractors in South Carolina – or 83 percent – indicated they are struggling to find craft construction workers. That’s compared to 69 percent nationally. Further, 7 out of 10 contractors here have vowed to hire more people in the coming year, though a only a small percentage believe it’s going to get easier to do so.

On the one hand, this is good news for workers. It means there are jobs available, and workers may have more leeway in demanding higher wages and safer working conditions. However, it could also lead to problems because companies may in their haste to fill positions hire people who perhaps aren’t qualified or fail to provide the proper training for each job. Industry insiders are concerned because, particularly when it comes to skilled labor, it’s important to have the right person for the right job. Unfortunately, many companies are going to find themselves hiring workers who are less experienced than would be ideal for certain projects. 

Additionally, there might also be some projects for which an adequate number of workers might not be available. That could mean overtime for some workers, but it heightens the risk of fatigue, which contribute to a myriad of costly and dangerous mistakes and possible worker injuries.

Part of the reason for the worker shortage has to do with the recession and subsequent recovery. There was a boom in construction prior to the economic downturn. However, when the housing bubble burst, that downturn was painful. Many thousands of construction workers lost their livelihood, and they’ve been reluctant to come back. Companies are now hoping they can spread the word that work is available.The average construction worker in South Carolina now makes approximately $900 weekly, which is a 10 percent increase over last year.

Although the construction industry overall has continued to improve its safety record over the last handful of years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes it is still the worst of any industry in terms of safety.

Still, some of those who might be mulling a return to the industry might see the stakes as too high, particularly considering that the entire construction industry continues to be one of high risk. OSHA reports it’s a high-hazard industry that exposes workers to serious dangers, including:

  • Falls
  • Unguarded machinery
  • Struck-by heavy equipment
  • Silica Dust/ Asbestos
  • Electrocutions
  • Backovers
  • Confined spaces/ trench collapses

It’s imperative that construction firms – even those who may be pressed to find qualified workers – do not allow employees to head out onto the job with inadequate training, unreasonable expectations or improper equipment.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Survey: S.C. faces shortage of construction workers worse than U.S., Aug. 31, 2016, The Post and Courier

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Continues to Fight Worker Misclassification, Sept. 10, 2016, Rock Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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