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.
[guest post] June is National Safety Month, and this week, the focus is on falls. As anyone who works in construction knows, this industry has some of the highest workplace accident and injury rates in the United States. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) ranks falls as one of their Fatal Four most deadly type of construction accidents.
Construction crews were preparing to replace window glazing on the 47-story tall Wellhouse na Leninskom tower in Moscow, Russia, when a cable snapped just as the window was about to reach the top of the structure
On March 15, 2018, a devastating pedestrian bridge that was under construction collapsed onto an open roadway below, killing 1 bridge worker and five motorists, as well as injuring 8 others. As was expected, investigations have been underway since the accident, which are expected to take at least several more months to complete
The Trump administration recently released its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions and, contained within it, is a series of regulations that federal agencies plan to either amend or eliminate.
Last November, OSHA issued a final rule that would finally allow them to enforce language, which has been in their standards since 2010, requiring construction crane operators to be formally qualified to operate the equipment. The first day of enforcement for that rule had been set for November 10, 2018, but the agency has recently proposed a new rule that would pull back some of the initial requirements.
Finding enough labor to complete jobs has been a problem for many companies in the construction industry over the past few years. Amid a construction “boom” in many areas, general and subcontractors are accepting jobs without enough people to work them, so some have turned to hiring “subs of subs” to supplement their work, a report published by The Tennessean says.
In March, OSHA announced that they would be enforcing their previously delayed beryllium exposure limit for the construction industry on May 11, 2018. The agency has recently confirmed that enforcement date in a memorandum on May 9, 2018.
OSHA newer and more stringent regulations regarding employee’s exposure to respirable crystalline silica officially went into effect on September 23, 2017. The new reduced the permissible exposure limit of the substance, which is found mostly in products containing sand (like concrete, mortar, and brick), from 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air down to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8 hour shift.
For the third time in a year, construction workers have had to be rescued while dangling mid-air by fire rescue teams in Southern Florida. Last year, there were two incidents in Sarasota, Florida that involved failed suspended scaffolding in as many months. Just last week, another incident in Palmetto Bay required the Fire Department to intervene.