CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training
The bad news
is, the work-related death rate from injuries for all construction
held steady in the decade 1992-2001. The good news is, death rates
for the two highest-risk trades are much lower. Rates are down also
for electricians and painters.
Xiuwen Dong and James Platner of CPWR – Center for Construction Research and Training compared federal government data over 10 years to spot the
For ironworkers, in 2001, the death rate from injuries was 76 per
100,000 full-time equivalents, compared with 145 in 1992, a drop
of 48%. For power installers 49, compared with 151 10 years earlier,
a drop of 68%.
Electricians' death rate from injuries dropped from 16 to 12; painters
saw a decline from 11 to 9. For other construction occupations,
the death rates remained unchanged except welders, who saw
nearly a doubling, from 22 to 40.
To compare construction to other industries, death and injury rates
are measured in full-time equivalents. That is because job completions
and weather mean that not all construction workers work full time
in the industry. A full-time equivalent is 2,000 hours worked per
Frank Migliaccio, director of safety for the International Association
of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers,
said the improvement in his trade's statistics can be credited to
intensive labor-management efforts to improve safety training and
onsite safety consciousness, particularly in fall protection. "The
effort continues," he added. "I just hope it keeps going."
The numbers continue to be poor for construction compared with other
industries. As of 2001, construction had just over 6% of the workforce,
but 21% of work-related deaths from injuries. For all other industries
combined, in 2001, the rate of work-related deaths from injuries
stood at 3.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalents.
No one knows the number or rate of fatal work-related illnesses
in construction, because of the long time between exposures to hazards
and deaths from such illnesses like cancers and silicosis.
Data reported in The Construction Chart Book, Third Edition, 2002
and elsewhere show smaller construction companies have the highest
death rates. And more than 90% of construction companies have fewer
than 20 employees. So, it is important to focus on small contractors.