Fall-related construction worker fatalities are on the rise despite focused inspections and training, increasing 36% from 2011 to 2015 according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). This increase outpaced an increase in construction employment and total industry fatalities.
Employment in the construction industry climbed to 10.3 million workers in 2016, a 16% increase from 2012 states CPWR. Meanwhile, the construction industry experienced a 26% increase in overall fatalities from 2011 to 2015. A total of 367 construction workers suffered fatal falls in 2015.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes other findings:
- 55% of fatal falls came from heights of 20 feet or less.
- 33% of fatal falls involved falls from roofs; 24% involved ladders; scaffolds and staging accounted for 15%.
- Roofers had the fourth highest fatality rate of all civilian occupations in 2015.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for 37% of deaths in the industry.
Fall prevention and fall protection strategies are commonplace today, but clearly not every employer is compliant with federal OSHA standards or industry best practices. Requiring employees to be protected 100% of the time should be the rule, not the exception.
The statistics are staggering and emphasize the need to reduce falls and the importance of ongoing safety awareness training in the construction workforce. The need for production should never outweigh the need to stay safe on the job site.