Building Savvy Special Report | September 2020

Stats on Safety Remain Sobering for the Construction Industry

Out of work-related deaths in the private-industry, one of every five is construction-related.

A report by Big Rentz identifies “The Fatal Four” top causes of construction fatalities:

  • falls 33.5%
  • struck by an object 11.1%
  • electrocutions 8.5%
  • being caught in or in between an object 5.5%.

Safety & Health Magazine reports that during a 45-year career, there is a 1 in 200 chance that a construction worker will die from a work-related incident.

OSHA data shows that one in every 10 construction workers is injured annually.

Non-fatal injuries also cost companies millions of dollars per year with slips, trips, and fall account for almost 3 out of 10 nonfatal injuries according to Big Rentz.

Companies with 10 or fewer employees and those who are self-employed account for nearly half of all deaths on construction sites, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The biggest OSHA fines in the first quarter of 2020 were related to fall protection violations with one of the largest fines of the year related to workers sheathing a residential roof without the required fall protection; the company cited had a history of violations.  Another incident involved three workers killed when the Hard Rock Hotel New Orleans partially collapsed during its construction.

The issue of falls as well as excavation and trenching accidents were the main discussion points at the 2020 Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health meeting. The expert panel’s recommendations to OSHA included increasing employer awareness, requiring additional training after issuing a fall-related citation, creating additional educational materials for use in the field, and using online courses to increase the level of both worker and employer training.

Regular inspections and the use of updated equipment can also mitigate some risks. OSHA also advises to keep walking surfaces clean and free of clutter, uses lighting and signage, and requires proper footwear on job sites.  Many construction companies now employ a mobility strategy that equips field workers to utilize tablets and smartphones to collect and submit data that can be shared with the main office or input into another business system or workflow.

Working to eliminate safety hazards can save lives as well as costs that include not an only monetary loss but losses to company reputation lowered employee morale, more expensive insurance premiums, and the inability to recruit the best talent among existing trained workers.  Improving the stats is vital to the ability to draw new talent to the construction industry.

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