Working in construction can be a dangerous career. Industry employees make up 7.3 percent of the workforce but more than 21 percent of fatal work injuries.
While advances in safety technology and best practices have been made, the rate of fatal injuries resulting from construction accidents has gone up dramatically, according to a new study.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) study shines a light on construction work conditions, safety hazards, and the most common causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Researchers analyzed data between 2011 and 2020.
Construction injury research
Overall, between 2011 and 2020, the rate of fatal accidents increased in the construction industry by 11 percent, according to the CPWR.
On average, 963 construction workers die per year due to work injuries, the study says. Hispanic workers are over-represented in deadly construction accidents. The fatal injury rate for this group shot up by more than 30 percent over the 10 years CPWR studied.
Meanwhile, about 78,000 employees were afflicted by non-fatal injuries each year. Authors say that nonfatal injuries are underreported, especially if the victim is Hispanic.
CPWR fatal construction injury report
There is a lot to unpack in the CPWR study. Here are some research highlights:
- The construction occupation with the highest rate of fatal injury in 2020 was Roofers. There were about 47 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). That year, the overall rate of fatal construction injuries was 10 per 100,000 FTEs. The other top 10 industry jobs with the highest fatal injury rates were:
- Helpers - 43.3 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTEs
- Structural iron and steel workers - 32.5
- Underground mining machine operators - 21.6
- Construction laborers - 18.1
- Construction equipment operators - 17.6
- First-line supervisors - 11.7
- Painters and paperhangers - 11.6
- Electricians - 8
- Carpenters - 7.8
- Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters - 5.2
- Construction managers - 3.4
- The pandemic had a limited impact on fatal injuries. However, the decrease in construction employment led to a higher fatal injury rate.
- The leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries from 2018 to 2020 was exposure, slips, trips, and falls.
- The fatal injury rate was more than 50 percent higher for workers ages 55 and up compared to younger workers.
- The most common primary sources of fatal injuries include scaffolds, confined spaces, roofs, highway vehicles, bucket trucks, forklifts, tractors, and other structures, surfaces, and vehicles.
- The most common primary source of nonfatal injuries include bricks, pipes, ducts, tiles, and lumber.
Compensation for injured workers
It's important to remember that San Diego and all California construction workers who are injured on the job are eligible to apply for California Workers' Compensation.
The benefits cover things like accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, and, in the most tragic cases, compensation for families of fatal work accidents.
If your injury was caused by a person or condition not related to your direct employer - like a subcontractor or defective parts manufacturer - you may be able to file a negligent third-party workplace claim in addition to workers' comp.
You can learn more about how the law applies to your specific case during a free consultation with a San Diego workers' compensation lawyer at McLaughlin & Sanchez.
We have years of experience getting results for injured workers and the families of loved ones killed in work accidents.
Do not delay. There are many legal deadlines you must meet throughout the application and hearing process.
A member of our team is available to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us today to schedule your free case consultation.