38. Fatal and Nonfatal Injuries in Construction and Other Industries
In 2015, 985 construction workers died from work-related injuries, accounting for 20% of the total (4,836) fatal injuries at workplaces in the United States,1 more than any other industry (chart 38a). Compared to its lowest level (781 deaths) in 2011, construction fatalities rose 26% in 2015 (chart 38b). Fluctuations were more pronounced among Hispanic construction workers, as fatal injuries dropped about 50% from a high of 360 in 2006 to a low of 182 in 2010, and then reached 285 in 2015, a 57% increase. The fatality trends in construction corresponded with the employment trends in this industry during this time period (see pages 2 and 20).
In general, the fatality rate in construction has decreased since 1992. Specifically, it declined 37% from 14.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs; see Glossary) in 1992 to a low point of 9.0 per 100,000 FTEs in 2011. However, the rate has increased since then, to 9.9 per 100,000 FTEs in 2015 (chart 38c). This increase could be partly attributed to expanded employment of high-risk worker groups, such as Hispanic immigrant workers (see pages 16 and 17). In 2015, the fatality rate in construction was almost three times higher than the average of all industries, which was 3.4 per 100,000 FTEs.1 The death rate in construction has also been steadily higher than manufacturing over time.
Following the fatality trends, the number of nonfatal cases resulting in days away from work (DAFW) in construction dropped by 55% from 20022 to its lowest point (74,000 cases) in 2011 (chart 38d). It reached nearly 80,000 by 2015, about a 9% increase from 2011. Among Hispanic construction workers, DAFW injuries declined about 67% between 2006 and 2012, and then rose around 35% by 2015.
The DAFW rate in construction was 134.8 per 10,000 FTEs in 2015, remaining 44% higher than the average for all private industries (chart 38e). The rate in construction also consistently exceeded mining and manufacturing and was higher than agriculture until 2008 (chart 38f). Moreover, construction workers generally have longer recovery periods when injured. In 2015, the rate of cases requiring a full month or more away from work was 47 per 10,000 FTEs in construction, compared with 27 per 10,000 FTEs for all private industries combined.3
The fatality numbers reported in this section were obtained from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including deaths among public and private sectors and self-employed workers. Therefore, the numbers presented may differ from publications that include only fatalities in the private sector. The FTE numbers in death rate calculations were obtained from the Current Population Survey (see page 10).
The nonfatal injury and illness data were extracted from the BLS’ Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII). The SOII excludes the self-employed and household workers, small farms with fewer than 11 employees, and federal government employees. Prior to 2008, state and local government employees were also excluded.4 In addition, illnesses account for less than 3% of nonfatal cases in construction.5 Since many work-related illnesses may have long latency periods, such as asbestosis or cancers, illnesses are potentially undercounted in the SOII data.6 As a result, the SOII data presented in this section primarily refer to injuries among construction workers. Studies suggest that injuries among construction workers may be underreported as well.7
Both the CFOI and SOII have undergone important changes in the last decade, including changes in industrial classification systems and recordkeeping standards for the SOII data collection. Therefore, the injury data reported in this section may not be directly comparable over time.
(Click on the image to enlarge or download PowerPoint or PDF versions below.)
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. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed April 2017).
2. Effective January 1, 2002, OSHA revised its requirements for recording occupational injuries and illnesses. Due to the revised recordkeeping rules, the estimates since the 2002 survey are not directly comparable with those from previous years.
3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Number and rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by selected industry, http://www.bls.gov/data/#injuries (Accessed April 2017).
4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 9: Occupational safety and health statistics, http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch9.htm#scope_SOII (Accessed April 2017).
5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2013 Survey of Occupational Injuries & Illnesses, Summary estimates charts package, https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/os/osch0052.pdf (Accessed April 2017).
6. Ruser JW. 2008. Examining evidence on whether BLS undercounts workplace injuries and illnesses. Monthly Labor Review, 131(8): 20-32.
7. Lipscomb HJ, Schoenfisch AL, Cameron W. 2015. Non-reporting of work injuries and aspects of jobsite safety climate and behavioral-based safety elements among carpenters in Washington State. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 58(4): 411-421.
All charts – Since workers may work part-time in construction, safety and health statistics are defined in terms of FTEs to allow comparisons between industries. Full-time employment is defined as 2,000 hours worked per year (see Glossary).
Chart 38d – Annually, about 17% of nonfatal cases have no racial/ethnic identifiers.
Charts 38d-38f – Data cover private wage-and-salary workers only.
Charts 38d and 38f – The estimates since the 2002 survey are not directly comparable with those from previous years. Due to space constraints, only even years before 2002 were selected.
Charts 38a and 38b – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed April 2017).
Chart 38c – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related injuries and illnesses database, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed April 2017). The Current Population Survey also included. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.
Charts 38d-38f – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed April 2017).