37. Fatal and Nonfatal Construction Injuries in Selected Industrial Countries
In 2013, construction fatal injury rates reported by selected industrial countries ranged from 1.0 to 24.6 deaths per 100,000 workers (chart 37a). The reported construction fatality rate in the United States was relatively high among these countries, at 9.7 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs, see Glossary). This rate was lower than the rates for Switzerland and Belgium, but more than triple the rate for Finland and Australia, and more than five times the rate for the United Kingdom and Sweden.
In contrast, the nonfatal injury rate in the U.S. construction industry was relatively low compared to most selected countries, at 1.5 injuries per 100 FTEs in 2013 (chart 37b), which suggests nonfatal injuries may be underreported (see pages 38, 40, and 41). Compared to the U.S., France, Spain, Finland, and Germany had lower fatality rates but higher nonfatal injury rates.
Most of the data reported here are from the International Labour Organization (ILO),1 which compiles statistics on fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries provided by represented countries. Due to the wide variability in data collection and reporting, comparisons across countries must be made with caution.
Except for the United States, most countries use insurance and administrative records as data sources (chart 37c). The U.S. collects data through the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (see page 38). Countries that base their data on insurance records include only insured employees in their calculations; some include all reported cases, while others include only events that result in compensation.
Inclusion of self-employed workers differs by country as well. Germany covers both wage-and-salary workers and self-employed workers, whereas in Canada, self-employed workers are included if they opt for coverage, and in the United Kingdom, certain self-employed workers are subject to exemption. Other countries such as Australia, exclude self-employed workers.1,2 In the United States, self-employed workers are included in the fatality data, but excluded in the nonfatal injury data.
Another variable among injury rates is how the selected countries classify injuries from commuting accidents. Some of the selected countries, such as the U.S. and Australia, do not count workers’ injuries from road traffic accidents as work-related if they occurred during commuting. However, such injuries can be counted as work-related in Canada if a review board determines it is work-related, while in the United Kingdom, they must meet certain reportable criteria.2
Fatalities in some countries, such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, include deaths from occupational diseases (chart 37c), while the United States and other countries on the list only include deaths due to occupational injuries.
Countries also have different time periods for qualifying deaths and injuries as work-related. Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom count fatalities that occurred in the same calendar year as the accident (chart 37c). By contrast, Switzerland counts deaths that occur within the same fiscal year. Germany and Sweden count deaths that occur within one year of the accident, and Spain uses five days as the cutoff point. Similarly, some countries include only injuries with a minimum period of incapacitation. For instance, in Australia, an injury is counted if a worker has been incapacitated for at least five workdays, whereas in Switzerland there is no minimum period of absence.
Some countries are more likely to have full-time employment with one employer (such as in Northern Europe), but in others, construction workers do not work full-time. Therefore, using FTEs allows construction sector data to be more comparable. However, only a few countries adjust injury rates using FTEs. In addition, countries such as Belgium, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland have a relatively small construction workforce. Thus, injury rates in those countries may be more variable.
Changes in data classifications are yet another source of variability. The ILO asks the reporting agencies in each country to align their data with the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) of all Economic Activities. Yet, the ISIC system has changed over time and not all countries adopted the latest version in the same year. For example, while most countries presented on this page reported data using the fourth revision of the ISIC, Australia reported data using the third revision of the ISIC. The classification systems may be similar enough to allow general comparisons at a broad level, but the comparisons may be limited within construction subsectors across countries and time periods.
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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. International Labour Organization. ILOSTAT – ILO database of labour statistics. http://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/lang–en/index.htm (Accessed December 2017).
2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017. Counting injuries and illnesses in the workplace: An international review. Monthly Labor Review, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2017/article/counting-injuries-and-illnesses-in-the-workplace.htm (Accessed December 2017).
All charts – An asterisk “*” (Germany) denotes data calculated by the CPWR Data Center. Countries marked with a pound sign “#” (Switzerland and the United States) use FTEs to adjust rates. Data for the U.S. on this page are coded by ISIC for comparison purposes and exclude government employees. Thus, the numbers for the U.S. may not be comparable with the data coded by NAICS reported on other pages of this Chart Book. A caret “^” (Canada) denotes the number of nonfatal injuries in Canada is from Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), National Work Injury/Disease Statistics Program (NWISP). Employment data are from Canada Statistics. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
Charts 37a and 37b –Rates were reported by each individual country separately from the numbers presented in Chart 37c. Due to the wide variability in data collection and reporting, comparisons across countries must be made with caution.
Chart 37a – Rates are defined as follows: 1) Per 100,000 workers insured – Belgium, France, Spain; 2) Per 100,000 workers employed – Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom; 3) Per 100,000 FTEs (200,000,000 hours worked)—Switzerland, United States
Chart 37b – Rates are defined as follows: 1) Per 100 workers insured – Belgium, France, Spain; 2) Per 100 workers employed – Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom; 3) Per 100 FTEs (200,000 hours worked) – Switzerland, United States
All Charts – International Labour Organization. ILOSTAT – ILO database of labour statistics. http://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/lang–en/index.htm; Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2017. Counting injuries and illnesses in the workplace: An international review. Monthly Labor Review, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2017/article/counting-injuries-and-illnesses-in-the-workplace.htm (Accessed December 2017).