45. Nonfatal Injuries from Falls in Construction
Nonfatal fall injuries resulting in days away from work (DAFW) among construction workers followed the overall trend of employment and fall fatalities in this industry (see pages 20 and 44). The number of DAFW fall injuries increased 21% in recent years, from 19,710 in 2011 to 23,860 in 2015 (chart 45a), accounting for 30% of the nonfatal injuries in construction in 2015 (see page 43). Falls on the same level increased faster than any other type of nonfatal fall injury, reaching 8,120 in 2015, a 49% increase over the 2011 level (5,460).
While the majority (96%) of fatal falls in construction were falls to a lower level (see page 44), slips, trips, and falls on the same level caused more than half (51%) of all nonfatal fall injuries in 2015. For nonfatal falls on the same level, slipping was the most common cause, leading to 3,980 injuries in 2015, accounting for one third (32.9%) of all nonfatal injuries in this category (chart 45b). For nonfatal injuries due to falls to a lower level, more than one-third (35.2%) were from a height of less than six feet (chart 45c).
The risk of nonfatal falls varied among construction occupations. Helpers had the highest rate of nonfatal falls resulting in DAFW at 351.6 per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs; see Glossary). The next highest occupations were power-line installers and sheet metal workers, respectively (chart 45d).
By age group, more nonfatal fall injuries occurred to workers between the ages of 35 and 44 than any other age group (29%; chart 45e). However, the rate of nonfatal fall injuries was highest among workers 55 years and older. More than 45 fall injuries per 10,000 FTEs occurred among workers ages 55 to 64 years, and more than 38 fall injuries per 10,000 FTEs occurred among workers ages 65 years and older.
Effective fall protection is crucial to reduce fall injuries. OSHA requires employers to provide training to employees who may be at risk of falling. These training programs must teach employees how to recognize fall hazards and how to minimize risks by properly using the appropriate fall arrest systems and techniques.1 Fall injuries can also be prevented through design features, such as slip-resistant flooring, planned pedestrian routes that are separated from moving machinery, and adequate lighting. Risk reduction activities may also include marking trip hazards, planning for inclement weather, providing education, and encouraging exercise and suitable footwear.2
Increasing public awareness of the risk of falls in construction is also important. In response to the staggering number of fall-related injuries and fatalities, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector Council, NIOSH, OSHA, and CPWR have co-sponsored the National Fall Prevention Campaign since 2012. New findings from the National Safety Stand-Down, the major annual event associated with the fall prevention campaign, indicate that the campaign is reaching all construction subsectors, including small residential construction companies nationwide.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. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA Fall Protection Training Requirements, https://legalbeagle.com/6689196-osha-fall-protection-training-requirements.html?ref=Track2&utm_source=IACB2B (Accessed November 2017).
2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 1995. Subpart M – Fall Protection: Duty to have fall protection, https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=10757&p_table=STANDARDS (Accessed March 2017).
3. Dong XS, Wang X, Katz R, West G, Bunting J. 2017. Fall injuries and prevention in the construction industry. CPWR First Quarterly Data Report, https://www.cpwr.com/publications/first-quarter-fall-injuries-and-prevention-construction-industry (Accessed October 2017).
Chart 45a – “Other” includes jump to a lower level; fall or jump curtailed by personal fall arrest system; fall, slip, trip, unspecified; and fall, slip, trip, not elsewhere classified.
Charts 45b and 45c – Total may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Charts 45d and 45e – Falls include injuries from slips and trips.
All charts – Data cover private wage-and-salary workers only.
Charts 45a-45c – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, http://www.bls.gov/iif/ (Accessed November 2017).
Charts 45d-45e – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Numbers were obtained from the BLS through special requests (e-mail: IIFSTAFF@BLS.GOV). Numbers of FTEs were estimated using the Current Population Survey. Calculations by the CPWR Data Center.