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Chart Book (6th edition): Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries - Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries among Construction Sectors

39. Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries among Construction Sectors

The number and rate of fatal and nonfatal injuries1 differ greatly among major construction sectors. In 2015, 472 fatal injuries occurred among Specialty Trade Contractors (NAICS 238; see page 1 for industrial classifications and codes), accounting for 64% of all work-related fatal injuries among private wage-and-salary workers in construction (chart 39a), similar to its share of construction payroll employment (63.9%; see chart 2c). In the same year, there were 124 deaths in Construction of Buildings (NAICS 236), including both Residential (NAICS 2361; 63 deaths) and Nonresidential (NAICS 2362; 57 deaths).2

The fatal injury rate for overall private construction declined 23% from 14.0 to 10.7 deaths per 100,000 workers between 2003 and 2011, and then rose to 11.6 in 2015, an 8% increase over the 2011 rate. While the Heavy and Civil Engineering sector (NAICS 237) consistently had the highest fatality rate among the three major construction sectors, it decreased more than 42% from 2003 to 2015, a steeper decline than either Construction of Buildings (NAICS 236) or Specialty Trade Contractors (NAICS 238; chart 39b).

For nonfatal injuries, the Specialty Trade Contractors sector also had the highest number of injuries resulting in days away from work, accounting for 68.0% of such injuries in construction – more than double the sum of the other two construction sectors (chart 39c).

The rates of nonfatal injuries decreased significantly for all sectors from 2003 to 2015. The Specialty Trade Contractors sector, which consistently had the highest injury rate among all three major sectors, fell from 279 injuries per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs; see Glossary) in 2003 to 147 in 2015 (chart 39d). Converse to the fatality trend, both Heavy and Civil Engineering and Construction of Buildings had lower nonfatal injury rates than the overall construction industry on average during this period. However, due to smaller injury numbers, the latter subsector experienced more fluctuation in rate than the former, dipping lower during the recession and rising higher with the economic recovery.

Employment numbers were obtained from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW, known as the ES-202 program until 2003), an establishment survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The QCEW collects employment data from payrolls quarterly; self-employed workers are excluded. To match the fatality data and employment data by construction sector, deaths among self-employed construction workers were excluded, and employment numbers combined the four quarters of a given year in the fatal injury rate tabulations. Fatality rates reported here were not adjusted by FTEs because the QCEW does not collect data on hours worked. Therefore, fatality data reported on this page may not be comparable to data reported on other pages.


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Full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) – It is used to convert the hours worked by part-time employees into the hours worked by full-time employees for risk comparison. FTEs is determined by the hours worked per employee on a full-time basis assuming a full-time worker working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, or 2,000 hours per year,


1. Illnesses comprise less than 3% of all nonfatal injuries and illnesses in construction; therefore, numbers for construction largely represent injuries and will be referred to as such in this chart book.

2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, (Accessed April 2017). Deaths without detailed NAICS codes were excluded from the calculation.



*For text and all charts, major construction sectors refer to the construction industry coded by NAICS at three-digit level, including NAICS 236, 237, and 238.



Chart 39a – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, (Accessed April 2017).

Chart 39b – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2003-2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, (Accessed April 2017). 2003-2015 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.     

Chart 39c – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (Table R113), (Accessed April 2017).

Chart 39d – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2003-2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (Table R5), (Accessed April 2017).


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