The construction industry saw a period of growth during the last decade and with more workers employed, the number of hard hat injuries and deaths also increased.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) recently published a study looking at construction worker fatal injuries from 2011 to 2019. They found that while the number of workers employed in the industry grew by more than 25% between 2011 and 2019, the number of fatal injuries recorded a 41.1% increase. While looking at ethnicity, Hispanic workers were the most commonly hired workers and their employment rate grew by 55% during the period under review. They also recorded a jump in 89.8% in job fatalities.
While looking at construction workers ‘age, the middle age workers category (45 to 64 year old) recorded the highest number of deaths, however while looking at the rate of fatalities, workers over 65 years old were the most at risk of dying on the job with a rate of 22 deaths per 100,000 Full time workers (FTWs), compared to 9.6 per 100,000 FTWs for workers under 55 years old.
The causes of fatalities continue to be “the Construction Focus Four” as categorized by OSHA:
- Falls to a lower level
- Struck by
- Caught in or between
In 2011, a total of 539 hard hats were killed by one of these 4 causes, representing 61.8% of all construction workers fatalities for this year. In 2019, 709 workers were killed by one of these causes, representing 64.3% of all construction deaths for this year.
The increase in the percentage of fatalities caused by the “the Construction Focus Four” comes mainly from workers killed in falls. In 2011, falls accounted for 30.9% of workers deaths compared to 36.4% in 2019. Falls form roofs are the most common. 146 construction workers died after falling from a roof in 2019 compared to 92 in 2011. 93 killed themselves while falling from a ladder in 2019 compared to 70 in 2011 and 52 died when falling from a scaffold in 2019 compared to 38 in 2011.
Struck by fatalities mostly involved objects (more specifically falling material) or transport vehicles. Most construction workers who died in caught in accidents were crushed in collapsing material and a smaller number were compressed by equipment or objects.
Read the complete report here