As the construction labor shortage rages on throughout the industry, there have been concerns of how overworked employees or undertrained staff may affect job site safety. Although there’s no definitive proof that this problem is causing an increase in construction deaths and injuries, recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows trends pointing in the wrong direction.
Year over year, fatal occupational injuries in 2015 rose by more than 4% in the construction industry versus 2014, according to the BLS. Fatalities increased to a total of 937, from 899 the previous year. Rates also climbed to 10.1 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, from 9.8. The 937 deaths were the highest for the construction industry since 2008, when there were 975 reported fatalities.
Across all industries, an annual total of 4,836 workplace deaths in 2015 was the highest since 2008. Transportation, such as roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles made up the largest portion of all fatalities, with 1,264, roughly 25% of all fatalities. This highlights the importance of not only keeping workers safe while driving for their job, but also keeping workers safe from other motorists. Slips, trips, and falls accounted for the second highest cause of death, totaling 800 in 2015.
The negative trend has certainly piqued the interest of several government entities, including OSHA. OSHA has not only increased their fines for the first time since 1990, they’ve introduced a new rule that would require companies to make their injury records public. OSHA also recently released data that showed construction trench related deaths have doubled in 2016, as compared to 2015, which is not a good sign for the BLS’ 2016 fatality report.
In March of 2018, an under construction pedestrian bridge on Florida International University’s (FIU) campus collapsed onto an open street below, killing 6 and injuring several others. Many investigations and lawsuits are still ongoing after the tragedy, but OSHA has released their official report after a roughly 14 month long investigation.
According to a 2016 study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the construction industry sadly ranks first in total suicides and second in suicide rate compared to all other industries in the United States. In response, OSHA has recently published a webpage with resources to help prevent suicides in the construction industry.
As a storm blew through the Dallas, Texas area on Sunday afternoon, a tower crane standing near an occupied apartment building collapsed causing at least one fatality and 6 injuries.
The lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedure has been one of the critical elements of electrical safety training on construction sites for a decade. Generally, it’s pretty simple: if you need to work on an energized circuit or piece of equipment, shut down the breaker, put a lock on it so no one can turn it back on, and place a tag on it with your information. OSHA is considering updating the standard now and is currently requesting information from interested parties.
As the United States just recently suffered another tragic and deadly construction incident involving civilians after a crane collapsed in Seattle over the weekend, we’re reminded that the bridge collapse on FIU’s campus in Miami in early 2018 still has many unanswered questions.
For the past 3 years, Seattle, Washington has had the most construction cranes out of any United States city. But, as we know, from various videos and news stories, a crane collapse can have absolutely devastating consequences. On Saturday, a crane collapsed in downtown Seattle onto an open road below, killing two construction workers, 2 pedestrians, and injuring several others in the process.
All trench collapse deaths are preventable. As soon as everyone on a job site starts believing that we might actually make some progress. In just the past 10 days, there have been 4 trench collapse deaths across 3 separate incidents, further highlighting how far we still need to go.
Falls on the jobsite is the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in construction. Keeping up with housekeeping on your site is a great way to reduce risks of falls, but other protections, like rebar caps should be installed when rebar is exposed. A young construction worker recently found out the hard way what happens when rebar is left exposed.