Construction Site Accidents: STATISTICS
An estimated 9.6 million persons were employed in the construction industry in 2001. Most of these workers were aged 25–54 (75.4%), male (90.3%), and white (90.8%) [BLS 2001].
Over the years, construction has ranked among industries with the highest rates of both fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries. BLS reported that the number and rate of fatal occupational injuries in the construction sector in 2001 were the highest recorded since the inception of CFOI (1,225 fatal occupational injuries with an incidence rate of 13.3 per 100,000 employed workers) [BLS 2002b].
FALLS FROM ELEVATION:
Falls from elevation hazards are present at most every jobsite, and many workers are exposed to these hazards daily. Any walking/working surface could be a potential fall hazard.
An unprotected side or edge which is 6 feet or more above a lower level should be protected from falling by the use of a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system. These hazardous exposures exist in many forms, and can be as seemingly innocuous as changing a light bulb from a step ladder to something as high-risk as connecting bolts on high steel at 200 feet in the air.
Based on data from the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System, falls from elevations were the fourth leading cause of workplace death from 1980 through 1994. The 8,102 deaths due to falls from elevations accounted for 10% of all occupational fatalities during this period and an average of 540 deaths per year.
Once the third leading cause of work-related death across all industries, falls have surpassed workplace homicide to become the second leading cause after motor vehicle crashes. Last year alone (2005), some 717 workers died of injuries caused by falls from ladders, scaffolds, buildings, or other elevations. That equaled almost two deaths per day on average. In the construction industry, falls lead all other causes of occupational death, but the risk is present in virtually every kind of workplace. It may occur in many forms, from standing on a ladder to change a light bulb, to connecting bolts on steel girders hundreds of feet above the ground. (NIOSH).
In 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 1,224 construction workers died on the job, with 36 percent of those wrongful death fatalities resulting from falls. Events surrounding these types of accidents often involve a number of factors, including unstable working surfaces, misuse of fall protection equipment, and human error. Studies have shown that the use of guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and travel restriction systems can prevent many deaths and injuries from falls. (OSHA).
Fatal work injuries involving falls were up 17 percent in 2004. The 815 fatal falls recorded in 2004 represented the highest annual total ever reported by the fatality census for this event and followed two years of declines. The increase in fatal falls was led by a 39 percent increase in the number of workers who were fatally injured after a fall from a roof (from 128 fatalities in 2003 to 178 in 2004) and a 17 percent increase in the number of fatal falls from ladders (from 114 fatalities in 2003 to 133 in 2004). The totals for falls from roofs and for falls from ladders represented new series highs for these events. About 88 percent of the fatal falls from roofs involved construction workers, compared with about 54 percent for fatal falls overall. (BLS).
Historically, workers in “high risk” industries like construction have suffered the highest rates of fatal injury. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reveal that fatal injury rates in these high-risk industries range from 3.0 to 5.6 times the private industry rate of 4.2 per 100,000 workers.
Falls to lower level accounted for the highest number of fatal injuries among construction workers (410 or 4.3 per 100,000 full-time workers), and highway accidents accounted for the next highest number (161 or 1.7 per 100,000 full-time workers). [National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health].
A total of 5,703 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2004, an increase of 2 percent from the revised total of 5,575 fatal work injuries reported for 2003. (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Fatal work injuries resulting from being struck by an object rose 12 percent in 2004, and overtook workplace homicide as the third most frequent type of fatal event. (BLS).
Workplace homicides were down sharply in 2004 to the lowest level ever recorded by the fatality census. (BLS).
Fatal falls increased by 17 percent to a new series high, led by increases in the number of fatal falls from ladders and from roofs. (BLS).
Fatal highway incidents were up slightly in 2004 after declining the two previous years. The 1,374 fatal highway incidents recorded in 2004 represented about one out of every four fatal work injuries in 2004. Although non-highway incidents (such as those that might occur on
a farm or industrial premises) dropped slightly in 2004, other kinds of transportation incidents increased, led by incidents involving workers struck by vehicles or mobile equipment. (BLS).
The number of workers who were fatally injured after being struck by objects rose 12 percent in 2004 (from 531 in 2003 to 596 in 2004), led by increases in the number of workers who were fatally injured after contact with falling, rolling, or sliding objects. The number of electrocutions also rose slightly. (BLS).
The construction industry sector recorded 1,224 fatal work injuries, the most of any industry sector, an increase of 8 percent over the number reported in 2003. The increase was led by a jump in fatalities among specialty trade contractors from 629 in 2003 to 752 in 2004. (BLS).
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