Construction sites are often associated with higher rates of accidents and injuries than other kinds of work sites. This may be due to the nature of construction, as workers are constantly exposed to dangers that most other workers do not encounter. Construction accidents generally lead to a few major types of work- related injuries. Below are some construction site accident statistics. These are for both non-fatal and fatal accidents and are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
While advances have been made in construction safety equipment, technology and training, the construction industry continues to produce high rates of injury, both fatal and non-fatal, due to accidents on construction sites.
The danger inherent in construction work is demonstrated by the fact that construction workers make up only 6% of the U.S. workforce, but the industry accounts for about 20% of worker deaths in the United States. This disparity emphasizes the need for continuing efforts to improve safety on the job for those working in the construction industry.
Work-related injuries are injuries that can be attributed to a work-place event or exposure to a work environment which either causes or contributes to the final condition of injury. They also include aggravations of pre-existing injuries or conditions.
Non-Fatal Construction Site Injury Statistics
In the year 2012, 67,940 non-fatal construction injuries were reported. This represents 7.5% of the total non-fatal injuries reported for all industries. In 2012 the incident rate for non-fatal injuries was 3.7 incidents per 100 workers.
The situation has not improved significantly. The BLS reports that every year, 1.1% of construction workers suffer an injury serious enough that they must miss work. The construction industry accounts for 6% of all workplace injuries that result in days lost from work. In addition, the BLS’s 2019 census of workplace fatalities found that deaths in the private construction industry increased in 2019 by 5 percent from 2018, the highest number of yearly fatalities since 2007.
In 2020 the rates of Injury and illness in the construction industry were 24% higher than they were in all industries on average. More than 25% of construction workers indicate that they have failed to report a work-related injury. In 2020, the construction industry reported 174,100 cases of injury, so it can be assumed that the real number is higher as many injuries go unreported.
Fatal Construction Site Accidents
There were 775 total deaths in construction in the year 2012. This accounts for 19.6% of total fatalities for all industries in 2012.
In 2021, the following statistics were identified:
- 1 in 5 deaths among U.S. workers was in the construction industry according to OSHA;
Of the 42 crane-related deaths in the year 2021, about 60% involved a falling object according to the BLS, up form 775 total deaths in 2012;
- A total of 1,008 construction workers died on the job in 2020 per the BLS up from 775 total deaths in 2012;
- Each year, 10.2 of every 100,000 construction workers suffer a fatal injury, which is the third highest rate for any industry per the BLS;
- Falls account for 34% of all deaths on construction sites, so eliminating falls on construction sites alone would save more than 300 lives every year per the BLS.
The four types of accidents that are the most frequent cause of deaths of construction workers are falls, being struck by equipment, being trapped between objects and electrocutions. These are referred to as the “Fatal Four.” The Fatal Four account for more than 60% of all construction-related deaths according to OSHA.
All the injury, death and time lost from work is costly. It is estimated that fatal construction injuries cost the United States $5 billion each year. The costs arise from health care, income lost to families when a breadwinner is fatally injured, reduced quality of life for family members and lost production.
The total cost of all workplace injuries is more than $170 billion each year. Workers’ compensation claims for nonfatal falls alone amount to $2.5 billion annually. Having a history of claims can result in an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premium increasing. If an employer’s claim costs are lower than average when compared with other businesses of a similar type and size, this can reduce the employer’s workers’ compensation premium. On the other hand, if their claim costs are higher than average, this results in an increase in their premium.
In addition to the expense of workers’ compensation claims, penalties that OSHA has imposed for safety violations have cost businesses from $13,653 to $136,532. In 2021 one of the highest fines proposed by OSHA for a safety violation in 2021 was $1.2 million. This penalty was charged to Always Roofing in Washington.
Most Common OSHA Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal agency whose mission is to improve the health and safety of working conditions for Americans in all occupations across the U.S. In order to achieve this goal, OSHA establishes safety standards and then provides education and help to employers and workers in meeting standards. It also enforces standards when it visits workplaces and finds that standards are not being met. OSHA conducts safety inspections on its own initiative, but workers can also request their help if they see safety and health hazards in their workplace.
Specifically, if OSHA finds violations of its standards, it enforces them by imposing fines on the owners of workplaces who committed the violations and thereby endangered their employees.
In 2018, for example, OSHA reported that over 31,000 fines had been imposed on employers for safety violations, costing those employers more than $400 million dollars in fines.
Following are the 10 most frequently cited violations of OSHA standards for all industries. OSHA publishes the list in order to inform employers about the standards that are most often violated so they can take measures that address well-known hazards in their workplaces and hopefully reduce the toll of injury and death on their employees.
The most frequently cited OSHA standard violations in FY 2020 were as follows:
- Violations involving protection against falls, 5,424 violations;
- Violations involving the communication of hazardous conditions, 3,199;
- Violations involving respiratory protection, 2,649;
- Violations involving scaffolding, 2,538;
- Violations involving ladders, 2,129;
- Violations involving control of hazardous energy, 2,065;
- Violations involving powered industrial trucks, 1,932;
- Violations involving training for fall protection, 1,621;
- Violations involving eye and face protection, 1,369;
- Violations involving machinery and machine guarding, 1,313.
To summarize, the most common causes of non-fatal construction site injuries are contact with objects, i.e. collisions, and falls to lower levels of a building construction. For fatal accidents, falls and collisions are also the leading causes. It can be seen from reviewing this list, that many of the most frequent violations involve conditions on construction sites.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Construction Site Accident?
Injuries sustained in a construction-related accident at a building site can be very serious and possibly even fatal. If you or a loved one has been affected by a construction site accident, you should consult a personal injury lawyer for advice.
Your attorney can help you file a claim and represent you in negotiations or at a hearing, if that should become necessary. Also, if you have any specific questions regarding health and safety violations in your workplace, your attorney can investigate and help you file a claim with OSHA, if you wish.