Construction industry fatalities is a topic that always brings sadness to me as a safety professional.
But it has to be discussed to shed light on the challenges and risks faced by workers in this dynamic field.
From the leading causes of fatalities to regional variations and even lesser-known factors, we’ll explore the data to uncover important insights.
1. Construction industry leads in fatalities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry consistently ranks among the highest in terms of occupational fatalities.
2. Fatality rate
In 2019, the construction industry reported a fatality rate of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, which is significantly higher than the average for all industries.
3. Leading cause of death
Falls remain the leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry, accounting for a significant portion of construction fatalities.
4. Fall-related fatalities
Falls from heights accounted for approximately 33.5% of construction fatalities in 2019.
5. Heavy equipment Struck-by accidents
Struck by objects stands out as a significant factor contributing to fatalities in construction. Around 75% of the reported deaths related to being struck by objects are linked to the use of heavy machinery, including trucks and cranes.
Electrocutions accounted for roughly 8.5% of construction industry fatalities in 2019.
7. Caught-in/between accidents
Incidents involving workers being caught in or between objects resulted in approximately 5.5% of construction fatalities.
8. Demographic distribution
The majority of construction fatalities occur among male workers, with a higher incidence among workers aged 45 and older.
9. Small construction businesses are more at risk
Fatalities tend to be more prevalent in small construction companies, highlighting the need for improved safety measures across the industry.
10. Time of day
The majority of construction fatalities occur during daylight hours, with the highest concentration in the morning hours.
11. Seasonal variations
Construction fatalities often experience a spike during the summer months, coinciding with increased construction activity.
12. Occupation-specific risks
Certain construction occupations, such as roofers, ironworkers, and crane operators, face higher risks of fatal injuries due to the nature of their work.
11. Subcontractor risks
Subcontracted workers face a higher risk of fatal accidents compared to direct employees, emphasizing the importance of contractor management and safety oversight.
12. Safety training impact
Adequate safety training has shown to reduce the likelihood of fatal incidents. Companies with comprehensive safety training programs tend to have lower fatality rates.
13. Role of safety regulations
Strict adherence to safety regulations, such as those set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), can significantly contribute to reducing construction fatalities.
Source: BMJ Journals
14. Aging infrastructure
Aging infrastructure poses additional risks for construction workers, increasing the likelihood of accidents and fatalities.
15. Non-fatal incidents
For every construction industry fatality, there are numerous non-fatal incidents that result in injuries, disabilities, and long-term health issues.
16. Impact on families
Construction fatalities have a profound and lasting impact on the families and loved ones left behind, highlighting the importance of prioritizing safety in the industry.
17. Economic costs
Construction fatalities incur substantial economic costs, including medical expenses, legal fees, lost productivity, and increased insurance premiums.
18. Worker experience plays a role
Inexperienced workers face a higher risk of fatal accidents in the construction industry. Research shows that workers with less than one year of experience have a higher fatality rate compared to more experienced counterparts.
This highlights the importance of providing thorough safety training and mentorship programs for new hires to mitigate the risks associated with inexperience.
19. Fatality rates by states
Construction fatality rates can vary significantly based on state. Certain states like Wyoming have higher fatality rates due to factors like climate, construction activity levels, and regulatory enforcement.
Analyzing regional data helps identify high-risk areas and tailor safety initiatives to address specific local challenges.
Source: National Safety Council
20. Substance abuse contributes to fatalities
Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug use, contributes to a significant number of construction fatalities. Impaired judgment and decreased motor skills increase the likelihood of accidents.
Implementing comprehensive substance abuse prevention programs and promoting a zero-tolerance policy can help mitigate this risk.
21. Equipment-related fatalities
Construction equipment, such as cranes, forklifts, and excavators, poses inherent risks if not operated and maintained properly.
Equipment-related fatalities account for a significant portion of construction industry deaths. Rigorous equipment inspection, operator training, and strict adherence to safety protocols are vital to prevent accidents.
22. Nighttime work hazards
Nighttime construction work introduces additional hazards due to reduced visibility and potential fatigue among workers. Statistics reveal a higher fatality rate during nighttime shifts.
Adequate lighting, proper scheduling, and fatigue management strategies are essential to mitigate the risks associated with nighttime work.
Source: Purdue University
23. Language barriers
Language barriers pose challenges for effective communication and understanding of safety protocols among diverse construction workforces.
Research indicates that workers with limited English proficiency face a higher risk of workplace injuries and fatalities. Providing multilingual safety training materials and employing bilingual supervisors can help bridge the communication gap and enhance safety.
24. Psychological factors
The construction industry is known for its demanding and high-pressure environment, which can contribute to stress, fatigue, and mental health issues among workers.
Psychological factors can indirectly impact safety performance and increase the risk of accidents.
Implementing mental health programs, stress management initiatives, and promoting a supportive work culture can help address these concerns and improve overall safety outcomes.
Source: National Library Of Medicine
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