What’s the Matter with Mondays?

Mondays, and mornings, can be dangerous.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), across many industries, including construction, more workplace injuries occur on Mondays than on any other day.  BLS data from 2016 show that the trend is true among oil and gas pipeline workers and among specialty trade contractors, in particular, building foundation, poured concrete, roofing, building finishing and plumbing and HVAC contractors.

It’s not clear whether workers are injured at higher rates on Mondays or whether more construction employees work on Mondays, leading to a higher number of total injuries. Either way, there are good reasons Mondays could pose problems.

Monday morning chaos

The first day of a new week can be plagued with delays. Whether it’s a key person showing up late to the site, materials that haven’t yet arrived or tools that were moved over the weekend, delays can create a disorderly environment.

Solution: Use your morning huddle to address any issues and confusion, clear any logjams and reroute personnel if needed. Set the day’s goals so the team is focused and on the same page. Discuss hazards of the day’s work and how to mitigate them so everyone keeps safety top of mind.

Social jet lag

Some Monday injuries may be due to sleep schedule disruption, also known as “social jet lag.” Whether your employees are living large on weekends or working second jobs, chances are their sleep patterns are disrupted. They may skimp on sleep and/or sleep late on Sunday morning, making it harder to fall asleep Sunday night.

Solution: Educate employees on the impact sleep disruption or lack of sleep has on the jobsite. It doesn’t hurt to remind them of this during Friday afternoon huddles. Consider starting Monday morning  — and every morning, for that matter — with a group stretching warmup. Stretching and low-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce fatigue and boost energy.

If possible, schedule particularly dangerous work for later in the week, or at least later in the day, to help avoid serious injury. More construction injuries happen between 8 a.m. and noon than any other time of day.

“Case of the Mondays”

Even people who love their jobs may be grumpy — and therefore less focused — on Monday mornings. Research suggests that a negative mood decreases complex cognitive performance and clouds risk perception.

Solution: Offer a Monday morning boost for employees, something they look forward to on the way to work. Maybe it’s as simple as coffee and donuts. Or host Food Truck Mondays and bring in a different vendor each week.

Another idea: Recognize a different crew member each Monday morning with an above-and-beyond honor (one that comes with a cash award). The idea is to ramp up energy and focus while making it clear you appreciate efforts to stay incident free. 

All told, construction injuries are on the way down according to a recent BLS report, which noted statistically significant declines in the rate of occupational injuries and illnesses in the industry. Imagine how much lower the rate could go if the industry mastered Mondays.


Kelly Moore has written about trends and topics for the construction industry since 2000.


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