According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there 4,679 fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. in 2014. In the construction industry there were 874 worker deaths, which is about 19% of all worker deaths. The construction industry had a 6% increase in worker deaths from the 828 in 2013. On a positive note, the fatal injury rate for construction dropped from 9.7 per 100,000 workers in 2013 to 9.5 in 2014. The rate for all fatal occupational injuries remained at 3.3 per 100,000 workers in 2014.
While the construction industry accounts for the most worker deaths out of all industries, it does not have the highest fatal injury rate. Industries with higher fatal injury rates include agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting with 24.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction at 14.1 and transportation and warehousing at 13.5.
Falls, slips and trips are the leading cause of construction worker deaths. They led to 349 deaths in construction, or 40% of all construction worker deaths. Other events that led to a high number of construction worker fatalities include transportation incidents (231), exposure to harmful substances or environments (120) and contact with objects or equipment (114).
When it comes to specific occupations in construction, roofers have the highest fatal injury rate at 46.2 per 100,000 workers. This is an increase from the 2013 rate of 40.5, and an increase in total deaths from 72 to 81. Structural iron and steel workers in construction have a high fatal injury rate at 25.2 per 100,000 workers, despite accounting for only 15 worker deaths. Other occupations in construction with high fatal injury rates include construction laborers (206 deaths) at 16.8 and first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (130 deaths) at 17.9.
Occupations in construction that saw an increase in fatal worker injuries from 2013 to 2014 include electricians going from 8.5 to 10.3, painters going from 9.4 to 10.3, operating engineers and construction equipment operators increasing from 6.7 to 7.5. Not all occupations in construction saw increases in their fatal injury rates. The fatality rate for carpenters decreased from 6.9 to 5.2, pipelayers and plumbers dropped from 7.3 to 5.8 and construction laborers went down from 18.1 to 16.8.
Be sure to check out the Winter 2016 Issue of our Construction Data Quarterly dedicated to safety in the construction industry.