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  • Writer's pictureAdele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP

CPWR Injury Data Show Need for Greater Emphasis on Safety

In May 2022, CPWR and the Center for Construction Research & Training released a Data Bulletin summarizing key findings from their review of 2020 injury data (fatal and nonfatal) for the construction industry. The findings again show that construction is one of the most hazardous industries, and workers are significantly overrepresented in fatal injuries. Construction workers are 7.3 percent of the total workforce, but suffered nearly 22 percent of all fatal injuries in 2020. The data utilized were drawn from the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for private wage-and-salary construction. The CPWR report notes that the data underreport nonfatal injuries overall, but particularly to those incurred by Hispanic construction workers.

The key findings in the report include:

  • From 2011 to 2020, there were an annual average of 963 fatal injuries among all construction workers, and 78,000 nonfatal injuries amount private sector construction workers.

  • The rate of fatal injuries between 2011 and 2020 increased by 11.1 percent.

  • Fatal injury rates (per 100,000 FTEs) increased between 2-11 and 2020 among those under age 55 (rising from 8.1 to 9.0), among Hispanic workers (9.6 to 12.6) and among male workers (9.7 to 10.8).

  • Among all construction trades, roofers had the highest fatal injury rate in 2020, with 47 fatalities per 100,000 FTEs.

  • Falls, slips and trips were among the leading events/exposures, resulting in 376 fatal and 22,900 nonfatal injuries on average annually from 2018 to 2020.

  • COVID-19 did not have a significant impact on the number of fatal injuries during 2020, but did result in a higher fatal injury rate due to decrease in construction employment during that year.

Overall, by occupation, the highest construction trade fatal injury rates in 2020, per 100,000 FTEs, were:

  1. Roofers: 47.0

  2. Helpers: 43.3

  3. Structural iron and steel workers: 32.5

  4. Underground mining machine operators: 21.6

  5. Construction laborers: 18.1

  6. Construction equipment operators: 17.6

  7. First-line supervisors: 11.7

  8. Painters and paperhangers: 11.6

  9. Electricians: 8.0

  10. Carpenters: 7.8

  11. Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters: 5.2

  12. Construction managers: 3.4

For comparison, the overall fatality rate for all workers was 3.4 per 100,000 FTEs, the total private industry sector rate was 3.7, and private industry construction was 10.2

Construction contractors and subcontractors should consider these rates, and increase training as we go into a summer season with booming residential construction as well as infrastructure improvements. For assistance with training or program development, contact the Law Office at 301-595-3520 (eastern office) and 303-228-2170 (western office).

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