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.
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.
On April 3, a congressional appropriations hearing was held to discuss the U.S. Department of Labor’s Federal funding for fiscal year 2020. During the hearing, the secretary of Labor, R. Alexander Acosta, told the committee how OSHA plans to spend their budget and how the agency fared in the previous year.
Safety training in the construction industry is necessary to build worker awareness – not to mention that it’s legally required – but it can be extremely time consuming and expensive to have completed. There are many companies out there looking to make money off of keeping workers safe, which is why it’s great when a company offers training free of charge, like Procore’s Safety Qualified program.
Cranes collapsing on-site are serious business, especially since many of them resulted in the loss of life. A recent crane collapse on a construction site in Alpharetta, GA was caught on camera after it caught fire, but luckily no one was injured.
There are a lot of different specialty construction contracting sectors within the industry and cruise ships are definitely one of them. There are plenty of unique challenges when dealing with a moving ship versus a static building. A recent accident highlighted the challenges when a crane collapsed on a cruise ship under renovations, injuring 8 people.
The vast majority of safety related “conversations” that I’ve overheard, or have been a part of, in my career has been mostly a supervisor telling a worker to “knock it off” or something to that effect. The typical reaction from the worker is to stop doing the unsafe behavior, wait a few minutes when the supervisor has left the area, and then go right back to the way they were doing it originally.
It seems weird to be talking about new step ladder designs. Other than moving from wood to aluminum to fiberglass, the form and function of a stepladder hasn’t really ever changed. One of the biggest opportunities has always been the gap between how step ladders were designed to be used as opposed to how people actually use them. 3 major manufacturers now have a solution to at least some of those problems.
In 2018, OSHA announced that reducing trenching an excavation hazards on construction sites would be their priority goal. Since that time, the agency has releases a variety of different materials to help build outreach to contractors across the country, including updating their National Emphasis Program (NEP) on trench safety. On a recent newsletter, OSHA highlighted a video about soil classification in trenches and excavations, meant as an introduction to those who want to know more about the process.