41. Demographic Trends of Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries in Construction
Injury and illness1 trends directly reflect demographic changes in construction employment. The proportion of fatalities among construction workers younger than 35 years old has progressively fallen over the past two decades, while the proportion among workers 55 years and older has grown, reflecting the aging workforce (chart 41a; see pages 13 and 14). In 2015, workers aged 55 years and older accounted for over a quarter (27%) of all construction fatalities, an increase from 20% in 2005 and 24% in 2010. However, the largest proportion of deaths occurred in the 45-54 age range in 2005, 2010, and 2015.
Nonfatal injuries showed a similar trend as fatalities. From 1992 to 2015, the share of nonfatal cases dropped 38% among workers aged 25-34 years, and tripled among workers 55 years and older (chart 41b). Overall, the proportion of nonfatal cases among workers aged 45 years and older grew from 16% in 1992 to 40% in 2015.
Injury rates varied significantly by age of workers. Between 2013 and 2015, the fatality rate for workers aged 65 years and older was 23.9 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs; see Glossary), more than three times the rate for workers under 35 years old (chart 41c). Conversely, the youngest construction workers experienced the highest rate of nonfatal injuries, with 139.3 injuries per 10,000 FTEs among those younger than 20 years old, nearly twice the rate (73.8) of the oldest age group (chart 41c). In general, workers aged 45 years and older took more days to recover from occupational injuries than did younger workers after an injury. Additionally, injured construction workers took more days to recover after being injured than did workers from all industries on average (13 versus 8 days; chart 41d).
The fatality rate for Hispanic workers was higher than that for white, non-Hispanic workers in general, but the gap has narrowed over time (chart 41e). On average, the annual death rate for Hispanic workers was about 48% higher than for white, non-Hispanic workers between 1992 and 2002, but was just 9% higher between 2012 and 2015. Targeted intervention programs for Hispanic construction workers may have contributed to the injury reduction among this vulnerable worker group.2
In contrast to fatal injury rates, the nonfatal injury rate for Hispanic workers was consistently lower than for white, non-Hispanic workers during these time periods (chart 41f). This suggests that injury underreporting may exist among Hispanic construction workers.
Women workers only accounted for a small proportion of the construction workforce, in particular among construction production occupations (see page 19). Even so, in total, 341 female construction workers died from work-related injuries from 1992 to 2015, about 14 per year on average. Additionally, there were more than 84,000 injuries resulting in lost workdays among female construction workers, or about 3,500 per year, during the same time period.3
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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, https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshdef.htm.
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. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH Program Portfolio: Occupational Health Disparities, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/ohd/risks.html (Accessed April 2017).
3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, http://www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm#data (Accessed April 2017).
Charts 41b, 41d, and 41f – Data cover private wage-and-salary workers only.
Chart 41c – Rates are adjusted for full-time workers. Fatality data cover all employment. Nonfatal injury data cover private wage-and-salary workers.
Chart 41d – The median is the middle value that divides the group into two parts, with 50% of values below the median, and 50% above it.
Charts 41e and 41f – Rates are adjusted for full-time workers. The four time periods used in these charts account for the OSHA reporting requirement changes in 2002, the switch of the industrial and occupational classifications beginning in 2003, the economic downturn from 2008-2011, and the economic recovery from 2012-2015.
Charts 41a and 41b – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, http://www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm#data (Accessed April 2017). Proportions were calculated by the CPWR Data Center.
Charts 41c, 41e, and 41f – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, and Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, http://www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm#data (Accessed April 2017); and the Current Population Survey. Rates were calculated by the CPWR Data Center.
Chart 41d – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, , http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed April 2017).