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Construction Fatality Numbers Up in 2014, New Data Shows [INFOGRAPHIC]

October 23, 2015
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its preliminary 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) workplace fatality data, and the results are not pretty.

While the construction industry was already reeling from 828 worker deaths in 2013, the number increased by nearly 1 percent this past year, to 874 fatalities in 2014. This is the highest fatality total reported since 2008. In private construction, 9.5 per 100,000 workers were killed, while in heavy and civil construction, 138 workers suffered fatal injuries.

Specialty trade contractors accounted for the majority of deaths in construction – 545 or 62 percent – while building contractors reported 175 deaths. Fatal injuries among construction trades workers increased 3 percent to 611 fatalities, the highest count for this group since 2009.

In all, construction was responsible for 19 percent of all fatal injuries in 2014.

Fatal injuries among construction trades workers increased 3 percent to 611 fatalities, the highest count for this group since 2009.

As usual, the Fatal Four were the most common causes of worker deaths, accounting for 508 of the 874 fatalities. The Fatal Four – falls, electrocutions, struck-by-object, and caught-in/between accidents – continue to plague the construction industry, responsible for more than half (58.2 percent) of all construction fatalities in 2014. Transportation incidents accounted for 231 construction deaths.

Falls continued to lead the Fatal Four pack, with 349 total fatalities (39.9 percent) in 2014. Falls to a lower level accounted for 337 of those deaths, including 163 falls of 20 feet or less.

Electrocutions followed with 74 deaths (8.5 percent), including 42 direct exposures and 32 indirect exposures. Of those, 17 fatalities were due to exposure to 220 volts or less.

Struck-by-object incidents accounted for 73 (8.4 percent) deaths in construction. Falling objects or equipment (non-powered) led the incidents with 39 deaths, followed by powered, non-transport vehicle struck-by incidents with 22.

Caught-in or caught-between incidents accounted for 12 total industry deaths (1.4 percent) in 2014. This included six incidents of being caught in running equipment or machinery. Being struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structures, equipment, or materials caused 27 construction deaths but are not considered struck-by or caught-in/between incidents.

Vehicular incidents are not included in Fatal Four statistics either. However, of the 231 transportation fatalities in construction, 64 were pedestrian vehicular accidents. Last year, vehicles in work zones killed 40 pedestrian workers, while roadway incidents involving two or more vehicles were responsible for 71 deaths. 

Across all industries, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014, or 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. That number is up 2 percent from last year (4,585 in 2013). 

That means that on average, nearly 90 people died on the job each week – more than 13 deaths each day. Of those, 789 were Hispanic or Latino workers, accounting for more than 15 deaths each week or two workers each day. Overall, 827 fatal workers involving foreign-born workers were reported in 2014, from over 80 countries. Of those, 334 (40 percent) were born in Mexico.

Fatal injuries involving workers ages 55 and older rose 9 percent, to 1,621 in 2014. This is the highest total ever recorded by the CFOI. Fatal injuries to workers ages 45-54 also increased in 2014.

Across all industries, falls, slips and trips increased 10 percent to 793 in 2014 from 724 in 2013. Falls to a lower level (between floors, etc.) accounted for 647 of those incidents, up from 595 in 2013 (a 9 percent increase). Two-thirds of those falls were from 20 feet or less. 

Contact with objects and equipment, which includes struck-by and caught-in/between incidents, were down slightly in all industries, accounting for 708 worker deaths. Being struck by falling objects or equipment caused 34 percent of these deaths, while 28 percent attributed to being struck by powered vehicles in non-transport situations.

Revised data from the CFOI will be released in late spring 2016.

Nearly every one of these deaths – if not all of them – likely could have been prevented had the proper safety and health measures been taken by workers in the field and managers in the office. Read more on how you can prevent injuries and fatalities in the workplace here.

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