According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 985 construction workers died in the United States in 2015. The next year saw relatively the same number of fatalities with a total of 970 fatalities in the construction industry, out of a total of 5,190 work-related fatalities. This means that about 20 percent of all workplace fatalities occur in the construction industry. In 2018, it was also the first year since 2008 that more than 5,000 fatal construction accidents had been recorded.
Construction is the 11th Most Dangerous Profession
Based upon fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 full-time workers, construction is the 11th most dangerous profession. Falls continued to be the number one cause of construction workplace fatalities, responsible for 379 (increased from 348 in 2015). Eighty construction workers per month in the U.S. will lose their lives. In fact, construction workers are four times more likely to lose their lives in a construction accident while on the job than the average employee. Construction site foremen saw their highest number of fatalities since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries implemented the Standard Occupational Classification system.
Causes of Fatal Construction Accidents
There are various causes for fatal construction accidents to occur. One major source has been unintentional contact with equipment. Over 25 percent of all laborer deaths in 2016 were caused by contact with equipment such as backhoes, front-end loaders, cranes, aerial lifts, and grading machinery. The most common non-fatal injuries were hand injuries followed by back injuries.
In 2016, road construction worker deaths increased to 103 from just 72 in 2013. This was a 43 percent increase. From 2003 through 2016, more than 1,200 road construction worker deaths occurred. This was approximately nine percent of all construction fatalities per year. According to a report by the Center of Construction Research and Training (CPWR), some of the proposed prevention strategies include increasing visibility of workers and signage, enforcing speed reduction, creating positive barriers, using warning systems, closing roads, and rerouting traffic if possible.
Caught-In or Caught-Between Incidents Account for Large Number of Fatalities
Per another report by the CPWR, caught-in or caught-between caused the deaths of 275 construction workers from 2011-2015. Out of these fatalities, approximately 69 percent were attributed to “being caught or crushed in collapsing materials.” This was a 50 percent increase over the five-year period in question. These types of incidents are one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Construction Focus Four” hazards, along with falls, struck-by incidents, and electrocution.
With so many fatalities in the industry, there are certain things that can be done to help reduce them. The most important method for decreasing these fatalities is to supply proper equipment and thorough training for employees.
What Can You Do?
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