According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,821 workers killed while working on the job in 2014. That’s the equivalent of more than 13 deaths each day, or over 92 deaths each week.
Construction site fatalities accounted for 899 of the total number of worker deaths, or one in every five fatalities. Falls accounted for nearly 40 percent of those 899 construction deaths,with 359 fatalities. Electrocutions caused 74 deaths, or more than 8 percent of the total deaths in the construction industry. Struck by object accidents caused the death of 73 workers, which is more than 8 percent of the total. Finally, 4.3 percent of the total number of construction deaths, or 39 fatalities, were caused by being caught in or between equipment or objects.
Simply eliminating the “Fatal Four” causes of construction worker related deaths would save 545 lives in the U.S. every year, or more than 60 percent of the total fatalities in the field in a single year.
Increased safety standards and protocols can significantly reduce worker related deaths in the construction industry. For example, using the proper safety gear, e.g., harnesses, can help prevent deadly injuries from falls, just as better safety practices around electrical components can reduce the number of electrocutions.
The most commonly cited safety standards by OSHA in the fiscal year 2015 were:
— Fall protection: Construction
— Hazard communication standard: General industry
— Scaffolding: Construction
— Respiratory protection: General industry
— Control of hazardous energy: General industry
The number of worker deaths in the U.S. have decreased dramatically since 1970 when there were 38 workers killed each day on average. In 2014, that number fell to 13. While that is still too many fatal worker accidents, it does show that safety standards are helping decrease the number of workers who lose their lives each day.
Workers’ compensation can help the families of those workers who die while on the job, as death benefits are available. Should a claim for benefits be denied, it is possible for an attorney to pursue benefits through an appeal.
Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Construction’s “Fatal Four”,” accessed Sep. 30, 2016