Construction workers face high risk of injury on the job

operaio nero in cantiereConstruction workers face a high risk of injury relative to other professions. According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction site accidents are a significant contributor to both fatal and nonfatal injuries for workers in Illinois and across the United States.

The risk of injury to construction workers may be evaluated in the context of both fatal and nonfatal injuries incurred in the workplace. Given the nature of the work, the prevalence of exposures to bodily harm on construction sites yields a higher risk of both types of injuries in this industry.

More workers killed in construction than other industries

In the context of fatal injuries incurred in the workplace (which may result in workers’ compensation), data from the BLS show that, in 2013, 796 construction workers were killed on the job. This figure accounted for 18 percent of total fatal injuries across all industry sectors, and also represented the highest number of deaths among all sectors.

Another way to quantify the risk of fatal injury to construction workers is to evaluate the incidence rate of such injuries in the sector. Accordingly, the incidence rate of fatal injuries to construction workers, per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, was 17.7, compared to the national average of 3.2.

The types of injuries in 2013 that resulted in death to construction workers varied, but were concentrated among the following four types:

  • Falls, slips and trips (37 percent of fatal injuries)
  • Roadway (12 percent)
  • Struck by object or equipment (10 percent)
  • Homicides (1 percent)

The above types of injuries amounted to 60 percent of fatal injuries to construction workers, leaving 40 percent of such injuries distributed among a variety of other causes.

High Incidence rates for nonfatal injuries

Fortunately, most injuries in the workplace are not fatal. However, these nonfatal injuries can result in outcomes ranging from missed time (in 28 percent of cases, more than a month away from work) to permanent disabilities (including brain injuries). Again citing the BLS, nonfatal injuries for 2013 in the construction sector ranked fifth among 22 listed sectors.

Construction zones commonly feature a host of physical hazards, as evidenced by the incidence rates among the nonfatal injuries most likely to harm construction workers. Compared to industries in general, workers in the construction industry are nearly twice as likely to become injured as a result of contact with objects and more than three times as likely to become injured as a result of falling to a lower level. Anyone who has been injured on the job may want to discuss their legal rights and options with an attorney.

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