Research/studies Fall prevention Construction Construction

‘These are real people behind the numbers’: Fatal falls in construction on the rise

Construction_roof -- Sep13

Silver Spring, MD – Fall-related construction worker fatalities increased 36 percent from 2011 to 2015, outpacing an increase in construction employment and total industry fatalities, according to a new report from the Center for Construction Research and Training, also known as CPWR.

Employment in the construction industry climbed to 10.3 million workers in 2016, a 16 percent increase from 2012, the report states. Meanwhile, the construction industry experienced a 26 percent increase in overall fatalities from 2011 to 2015. A total of 367 construction workers suffered fatal falls in 2015.

Data presented in the report comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other findings:

  • 55 percent of fatal falls came from heights of 20 feet or less.
  • 33 percent of fatal falls involved falls from roofs, 24 percent involved ladders, and scaffolds and staging accounted for 15 percent.
  • Fatal falls in residential construction rose to 61 in 2015 from 26 in 2011.
  • Roofers continue to experience the highest rate of fatal falls to a lower level: 31.5 per 100,000 full-time workers, although this represents a decrease from 39.9 in 2014.
  • Workers at an increased risk of fatal falls include Hispanic workers, foreign-born workers, and workers 55 years and older.

“These are real people behind the numbers, and they show up every day expecting to come home,” CPWR Research Analyst Gavin West said during a May 9 conference call.

The report was released during the 2017 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction (May 8-12). Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, according to NIOSH, accounting for 37 percent of deaths in the industry.

“The findings in this report emphasize the need to reduce falls and the importance of the ongoing National Fall Prevention campaign,” CPWR states. “It is estimated that the Safety Stand-Down events have reached more than 5 million workers (including those without certificates) across the nation in a three-year period [2014 to 2016], vitally raising public awareness of the risk of falls and importance of fall prevention in the construction industry.”

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