Research/studies Fall prevention Construction Construction

Fatal falls in construction: Total deaths rise, but rate falls, report shows

construction worker
Photo: NIOSH

Silver Spring, MD — The number of fatal falls to a lower level among construction workers increased from 2011 to 2017 – reflecting a surge in employment – although the rate of such incidents decreased 25%, according to a recent report from the Center for Construction Research and Training, also known as CPWR.

The construction industry added about 1.8 million jobs between 2012 (8.9 million workers) and 2017 (10.7 million). Of the 10.7 million workers, 367 died after falling to a lower level in 2017 – up from 260 in 2011 – for a rate of 4.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. That rate was 5.6 in 2011, the report states.

Other results:

  • Workers at organizations with fewer than 20 employees comprised 75% of fall-related fatalities between 2015 and 2017.
  • Although roofers experienced fewer fatal falls in 2017, the rate of fatal falls among the subgroup – 35.9 per 100,000 FTEs – was more than 10 times greater than the rate of all construction occupations combined.
  • Workers younger than 25 suffered fatal falls at a rate of 2.0 per 100,000 FTEs in 2017, compared with 13.1 per 100,000 FTEs among workers 65 and older.

“The findings in this report emphasize the importance of the ongoing [National Fall Prevention] Campaign, and the need to further reduce falls among construction workers,” the report states. “The construction industry continues to report more fatal falls than any other industry.”


CPWR on July 24 hosted a webinar exploring the findings in the report, including insight from CPWR Data Center Director Sue Dong.

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