Safety Study Suggests That Construction Worker Safety Is Improving

Worker Fatalities dropping

Safety Study

A new Safety Study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that safety of workers in the construction industry is slowly improving. Construction jobs, especially roofing and general labor, are statistically some of the most dangerous in the country. Roofers have a high incidence of falls resulting in fatalities. Ironworking is considered one of the top 10 deadliest jobs with 30.3 fatalities per 100, 000 workers each year, as of 2011. General labor can be dangerous due to workers having to operate heavy construction machinery and perform very physically demanding work.

Although these jobs are still very dangerous, the study shows there has been a steady decrease in the number of fatalities in the past few years. In 2008 the number of fatalities in the construction industry was 1,016. By 2010 the number dropped to 802, and for 2011, the most recent year the study covered, the total number of construction fatalities was 781. During this same 4-year period the number of injuries recorded went from 4.7 per 100 workers in 2008 to 3.9 per 100 in 2011.

One of the factors contributing to this slow but steady decrease in injuries and fatalities is improved and updated regulations which require employers to implement safety plans. In particular, the federal government has passed regulations directing state agencies to create and implement safety plans for federally-funded road construction projects. Another factor is cooperation by construction employers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Association of General Contractors of America to improve safety training and procedures. However, the improved statistics may also be attributable in part to the reduced number of construction projects in the past few years due to the economy.

OSHA’s Fall Prevention campaign is also helping to improve safety and reduce the risks of fatal falls in construction work by increasing awareness of the risks and of their prevention. Another important OSHA initiative, the Heat Illness Prevention campaign, is also helping to improve safety by bringing awareness of the risks when working in hot weather and what measures can be taken to prevent illness or fatalities under those conditions.