The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016. Among all industries, fatal work injuries rose 7% in 2016 (5,190 deaths) over 2015 (4,836 deaths). The fatal injury rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers also rose from 3.4 to 3.6 year over year.
Specifically in the construction industry, a total of 991 fatal workplace injuries took place in 2016, up from 937 in 2015. The FTE injury rate, however, stayed the same at 10.1. Only two other industries have higher FTE injury rates than the construction industry: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, & Hunting and Transportation & Warehousing. The mining, quarrying, & oil and gas extraction industry was tied for third with construction at 10.1.
Supervisors of construction and extraction workers accounted for 134 of the 991 total construction fatalities last year, which is the highest total for that segment since the yearly census report adopted a standard reporting process in 2003. Construction trades workers accounted for 736 deaths, including 125 roofers, which was also the highest amount since 2003. Trench collapse deaths also more than doubled in 2016.
Transportation incidents accounted for most of the deadly workplace incidents across all injuries, causing 2,083 deaths last year. Overdoses from the non-medical use of drugs or alcohol, sadly but not surprisingly, rose 32%, from 165 to 217 year over year. Since 2012, workplace overdose fatalities have increased at least 25% each year. Construction has been battling the opioid epidemic harder than many other industries in many cases.
The stagnant rate of fatal injury per FTE rate shows that there were many more construction hours worked in 2016 versus 2015, but it also highlights that there are many more improvements to be made. 991 construction workers didn’t get to go home to their families due to a preventable accident last year. We have to do better.
Multi-employer worksites are extremely common in the construction industry, but they can still make work extremely complicated. One of those complications results when a subcontractor receives a governmental violation, such as an OSHA violation. As a controlling employer on the site, can a general contractor be held responsible for safety hazards of a subcontractor? One court says yes.
After an abundance of delays on rule that would require crane operators to be formally qualified to operate, OSHA finally landed on an effective date of February 7, 2019. After receiving feedback from industry partners, OSHA has decided to delay enforcement for 60 days for contractors who make a “good faith effort” to comply.
As has been expected for a few months now, OSHA has officially removed the requirement for large companies with 250 or more employees to submit OSHA Forms 300 and 301. The administration cited privacy concerns as the reason for the change.
Be careful - owners and contractors are now being held criminally liable for their carelessness and disregard of safety protocols.
Since the 2016 Federal budget was passed, OSHA has increased their maximum citation penalty amount to adjust for inflation on a yearly basis. The 2019 increase has recently been announced.
Last November, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced felonious assault charges against a contractor’s superintendent and a manufacturer’s branch manager after two men suffered horrific injuries on a New York jobsite. Last week, OSHA formally announced citations against the St. Louis, Missouri based contractor.
After an uptick in construction industry fatalities in 2016, a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that both the amount of construction worker deaths and the rate of fatality dropped in 2017.
At the National Safety Council Congress & Expo on October 23, 2018, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2018.
On March 15, 2018, 6 people were killed and 8 others were injured when an under construction pedestrian bridge collapsed in Florida. Several months later, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their preliminary report while conducting an official investigation. The NTSB later issued an “Investigative Update” to their preliminary report in August. In Mid-November, the NTSB released a 2nd investigative update, narrowing their root cause theories.