Volume 50, Issue 11 - November 2015

Safety

Rise in Construction Employment Spells Rise in Fatalities

Work hours were up in the United States in 2014. Unfortunately, so were work-related fatal injury numbers—particularly in the construction industry.

According to recently released preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the numbers of fatal injuries in the manufacturing and construction sectors were up 9 and 6 percent, respectively, last year. Fatalities across all industries increased 2 percent to 4,679.

“Far too many people are still killed on the job—13 workers every day—taken from their families tragically and unnecessarily,” Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “These numbers underscore the urgent need for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees as the law requires.”

The number of fatal work injuries in construction in 2014 was the highest reported total since 2008, according to the BLS. Specialty trade contractors saw the highest number of fatal injuries in the industry with 545. In the manufacturing sector, the fabricated metal product manufacturing subset accounted for 32 deaths. From an occupation standpoint, construction trades workers totaled 611 fatalities.

Across all sectors, falls, slips and trips increased 10 percent to 793 in 2014 from 724 in 2013. That category was dominated by falls, accounting for 647 fatalities. Of the cases in which the height of falls were known, approximately 80 percent (427) involved falls of 30 feet or less, with approximately two-thirds (340) involving falls of 20 feet or less.

Work-related deaths due to contact with objects and equipment were down from 721 in 2013 to 708 last year. The largest proportion of fatal injuries in this category (34 percent) involved falling objects or equipment.

According to the census, fatal work injuries among self-employed workers increased 10 percent from 950 to 1,047. Also in 2014, 797 fatalities were identified as contracted workers, 6 percent higher than 2013. Workers contracted at the time of their fatal injury accounted for 17 percent of all cases.

Structural iron and steel workers were among occupations with a high fatal work injury rate. The occupation’s 15 work-related deaths account for a 25.2-percent fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers).

Fatal work injuries increased in 24 states, decreased in 22 states and the District of Columbia, and stayed the same in four states.



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