Construction Worker Deaths Rose Again in 2016

Construction workers on site

According to the 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Industries (CFOI), released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Dec. 19, construction worker fatalities saw a six percent increase from 2015 to 2016. In total, there were 991 construction-worker deaths over the course of the year, meaning construction had the highest number of fatalities across all industries.
    
These figures also mean the construction industry represented 19.9 percent of all worker deaths in 2016. The total number of construction-worker deaths has increased in recent years, signaling a continuing need for the industry to create safe work environments.

As a whole, the construction industry has a fatal injury rate of 10.1 per 100,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers. Only agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and transportation and warehousing had higher rates. Overall, the job with the highest fatal injury rate was logging worker (135.9 per 100,000 FTE). In the realm of construction, the deadliest jobs were roofers (48.6 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE), structural iron and steel workers (25.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE), first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (18.0 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE) and construction laborers (fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE).

Electricians actually saw a decrease in fatal injury rates from 2015 to 2016, dropping from 10.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE to 10.0.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provided details on 2016 construction worker deaths, singling out the four leading causes of fatal injuries not involving highway collisions. OSHA calls these the “Fatal Four”: falls (38.7 percent of worker deaths), struck by object (9.4 percent), electrocutions (8.3 percent) and caught-in/between (7.3 percent). For each of these “Fatal Four,” 2016 saw an increase in total construction worker deaths.

Finally, in other OSHA news, the agency has instituted higher penalties for violations of OSHA standards and regulations. These higher penalties became effective on Jan. 2, and are merely adjustments for inflation. For other-than-serious and serious violations, the maximum penalty is now $12,934. For repeat and willful violations, the maximum penalty is now $129,336.

All of this information, along with the increased penalties, should provide further incentive to create a safe working environment while on the job.

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