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.
In a recent press release, OSHA announced that it has implemented a new OSHA Weighting System (OWS) for their 2020 fiscal year. The change will better help OSHA allocate their resources where needed.
Hard hats are staples of the construction jobsite and required by OSHA wherever there is possible danger of head injury from falling objects, impact, or electrical shock (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.100). A common trend that has continued for years is the preference of many hard hat wearers to “reverse” the helmet’s configuration and face the brim to the back. But, is that allowed by OSHA?
If you have a safety meeting or perform an inspection and you can’t find any documentation of it, did it ever really happen? Well, sure it did, but it definitely helps to keep proper records for things as important as safety for reference later on or to prove to a government agency like OSHA that your company is being proactive. One way to keep proper records is to use an app, and Safesite has just made that easier as they now offer a free version of their inspection platform.
At the National Safety Council Congress & Expo on September 10, 2019, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2019.
It’s no secret that the construction workforce is dominated by men, but women are slowly increasing their numbers in recent years as gender barriers continue to be knocked down. With construction jobs expected to continue to grow over the next few years, women will play a significant role in filling job openings.
Construction employers are legally responsible for following and enforcing safety regulations on their jobsites. If caught not abiding by these rules and failing to keep workers safe, an OSHA violation and fine can follow. Recently, however, several contractors are also facing criminal charges following employee deaths on their jobsites.
After causing devastation in the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian worked its way up the U.S. East Coast last week and eventually made its way up to Nova Scotia, Canada as a Category 2 storm. The storm left more than 369,000 without power in the Canadian Region, according to CBC, but also caused a tower crane to buckle and collapse in the city of Halifax.
A 2018 trench collapse in Colorado lead to the death of a construction worker named Rosario “Chayo” Martinez-Lopez. Now, his employer faces manslaughter charges for his death.
Drones have been heavily used by the construction industry in recent years for anything from progress photos, to employee tracking, or calculating the volume of on-site stockpiles. Now, a report from EHS Today says that OSHA plans to employ more drones to conduct site inspections of employer facilities.
Last fall, OSHA announced its intentions to explore updating the 2016 silica dust regulations that seemingly took the construction by storm. Their intent was to gain feedback on additional dust control methods that would be suitable for hazard control, as well as on additional tasks and equipment not currently covered by Table 1 in 29 CFR 1926.1153. Last week, they announced the next step they’re taking towards revisions.