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Read all about it: the role of the media in improving construction safety and health.
J Saf Res 2010 Jun; 41(3):283-287
Around 1,000 construction workers are killed every year on the job in the United States, usually individual fatalities separated by time and distance. Although national news media may give front-page coverage or evening-news priority to the less frequent catastrophic incidents in which several workers die at one time, individual deaths typically do not receive high-visibility national news coverage. These deaths may be reported fleetingly as community news in local newspapers or broadcasts. Reporters are usually tasked to cover a wide range of breaking news on short deadlines. Rarely, as a rule, do junior or general-assignment reporters have the luxury of choosing a specialized beat to follow or the time needed to become deeply familiar with sources, issues, and terminology in specialized areas. Senior reporters who may have more latitude are faced with a myriad of issues that compete for equal time in the public interest. Because of these factors, it may be argued that the true toll of work-related injury and death in construction, and the fact that these tragedies can be prevented, are not well recognized by the general public in day-to-day news coverage. This presents a challenge and an opportunity for safety and health professionals to (a) encourage news media to provide deeper, more sustained coverage of construction injury and death, and (b) offer data, insights, and expertise that will help reporters and editors to do so. This paper discusses the potential of traditional news media to improve construction safety and health by highlighting fundamental issues through in-depth reporting, as well as the role of internet-based and social media as a complement to traditional media. Effective media coverage can have an enormous influence on improving construction safety and health. But in an era of cutbacks, media outlets have fewer reporters to specialize in workplace issues or occupational safety and health, much less the even narrower issue of construction safety and health. To encourage more effective stories in both the national and local news media, the construction safety and health community needs to develop relationships with media outlets, emphasize the potential for public impact, promote personal stories to show the relevance and impact of the issue, and utilize non-traditional media effectively as a tool to interact with traditional media and to communicate safety and health and injury prevention messages. Just to say 1,000 construction workers die each year is shocking. To tell the story of one construction worker who goes to work and never comes home, and the impact it has on his or her family, moves people. Changes in legislation, regulation, and work practices can all be promoted through the media and can have positive effects on construction workers' lives. We have made tremendous strides in construction safety and health, but we have a long way to go. The media can be an important tool in our tool belt towards building a better and safer construction industry.
Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Accident-rates; Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices
Issue of Publication
Journal of Safety Research
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division