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Fatality rates on the rise among small construction companies: CPWR

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Silver Spring, MD — Construction companies with fewer than 20 employees have experienced an increase in worker fatality rates at the same time larger companies have seen rates fall, according to a recent report from the Center for Construction Research and Training (also known as CPWR).

Smaller companies, according to CPWR, dominate the construction industry. In 2016, 81.6 percent of all companies had fewer than 10 employees, and another 9.4 percent had 10 to 19 employees. These employers “may face many barriers to implementing health and safety programs, such as limited resources and increasing pressures from business competition,” the report states.

From 2008 to 2016, the fatal injury rate for smaller construction companies increased to 24.4 per 100,000 wage-and-salary workers from 15.5, a jump of 57 percent. Meanwhile, companies with 20 or more workers experienced a nearly 30 percent drop in worker fatality rates.

In 2016 alone, 67.2 percent of construction fatalities occurred in organizations with fewer than 20 employees.

From 2003 to 2016, companies with fewer than 20 employees accounted for 56.6 percent of the industry’s 5,155 fatalities. This data is especially concerning because smaller companies employed nearly 37 percent of all construction workers during the study period, CPWR notes.

Fall-related fatalities and electrocutions were more prominent among smaller companies, according to the report. From 2011 to 2016, nearly 62 percent of all fall-related fatalities and 55.6 percent of electrocutions occurred among workers in small companies. Overall, 48 percent of all construction fatalities were in organizations with fewer than 10 employees.

To assist smaller employers, CPWR has developed the online Safety Climate Assessment Tool for Small Contractors, along with printable resources such as hazard alert cards and toolbox talks.

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