From 2008 to 2016 the rate of fatal construction accidents at small construction employers in the US grew by 57% while during the same period it decreased by 30% at construction companies employing more than 20 employees. 37% of the construction workforce is hired by small contractors but they account for 67.2% of all fatalities according to a recent report published by the Center for Construction Research and Training.
The construction industry in the US is mostly made of small businesses with 1 to 9 employees. According to 2016 statistics, 82% of payroll establishments in the construction industry had fewer than 10 employees and 9% had between 10 and 19 employees. Which means only 9% of employers are big companies. Big companies usually have better health and safety programs than small construction companies that sometimes struggle with increased competition and have limited resources.
The major causes of fatalities in the construction industry continue to be what OSHA calls the “Construction Focus Four”:
- Struck by
- Caught in or Between
On average every year 743 construction workers will die from one of these causes with 70% of them dying from the first one: fall.The CPWR report found that 62% of the fall fatalities and 56% of deadly electrocution occurred at small construction contractors employing less than 20 employees.
While looking at fatalities by construction sub-sectors, the report also found that in Residential Building, Siding, Framing Painting and Wall Covering and Roofing more than 70% of the fatalities occurred at contractors employing between 1 and 10 employees. While in the Highway Street and Bridge sub sector around 70% of fatalities occurred at construction companies employing more than 20 people.
While looking at fatalities by construction occupation roofers, painters, brickmasons, drywall workers, carpenters and sheet metal workers hired by small contractors had a much higher risk to die than their colleagues working at bigger companies. Roofers working for small contractors are the most at risk. In 2016 80 roofers died in construction accidents, among them 51 were working for small contractors with 1 to 10 employees.
The complete report can be downloaded here
GGraph Source: CPWR Data report, Fatalities in Small Establishments, Third Quarter 2018