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The troubling upward trend of construction worker deaths

Professionals in the construction industry understand the risks they take on a daily basis. Safety is paramount when working at significantly high levels where an accident will result in death. Few industries pose as much of a threat to the lives of workers.

However, another part of the industry that involves drivers, including those operating trucks, and salespeople has also accounted for fatalities. More than 1,000 deaths came from that segment, while onsite construction workers losing their lives increased by five percent to 1,061 in 2019.

Fatalities are on an alarming increase

In total, the industry saw its highest number of fatalities since 2011, according to the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. From the start of the study in 2011 to its end in 2019, deaths rose by 41.4 percent.

What is known as occupational fatalities result from accidents that include:

  • Falls
  • Falling objects
  • Machine-related incidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Electrocutions
  • Drownings

Fatal accidents can also involve exposure to substances and environments that accounted for 642 worker deaths in 2019, again the highest since 2011. In addition, suicides and unintentional overdoses can also be associated with conditions in the workplace and increased in 2019.

The only statistic that saw a decrease were deaths resulting from fires and explosions by 14 percent.

Falls typically involve scaffolds, wall openings, unprotected sides, holes, protruding steel bars, and portable ladder misuse, and accounted for almost half of all the accidents. Electrocutions are in a smaller segment, just short of nine percent. Being struck by an object, including vehicles and masonry walls, resulting in a 10.3 percent increase. Caught between objects accounted for 2.6 percent.

Far too many of those were tragically preventable and alarmingly underreported. Construction companies who fall short of the most basic safety standards should be held accountable for their negligence and minimizing fatal workplace accidents.