What Are the Main Causes of Construction Accidents? Safety First

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Construction is one of the major industries and employers in the world, and in the U.S., it is no different. Without the world of construction, society as we know it would simply fall apart, and that is something that we all have to consider when it comes to thinking about its importance. As well as its central relevance to a culture, it is also one of the most common places for people to work, and as such, it is an industry that needs protection. But as much as it needs protecting, so too do the people who work within it, in particular when it comes to the likelihood of accidents in the workplace.

As it happens, accidents in the construction workplace do seem to be going down in the long run, but what is the picture at the moment, and what does it appear to suggest?

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the construction accident statistics and workers’ compensation costs in the U.S. which might be good to know about, so that we can get a better sense of where we actually are at the present moment. You might be surprised about some of these facts, while others might be less surprising or even well-known.

Let’s take a look at some of the construction accident statistics in the U.S. that we have available to date.

Construction Industry In General

Before we get into the accident and injury side of things, it might be good to first discuss those statistics which point to the central relevance and importance of the construction industry in general.

Understanding just how important it is – and how many people rely upon it for their livelihood, for instance – will show us just how necessary it is that the safety side of things is dealt with much more effectively in the near future. Here are some statistics based on the construction industry in general, before we get into the specifics of the kinds of construction accidents and work-related injuries that take place there.

  • Spending in construction reached $1.29 trillion in 2018. [Statista]
  • Also in 2018, 77% of construction spending occurred in the private sector – to the tune of $992 billion. [Statista]
  • Construction accounted for 7% of the U.S.’ total GDP in 2017. [FMI]
  • The residential construction of single families is estimated to be around $282 billion, which is an increase of 4% in 2017. [FMI]
  • However, multi-family construction rose by only 1% but does still has a total estimated value of around $67 billion. [FMI]
  • As for commercial construction, that looked to be around $89 billion in 2018, which was an increase of just about 2%. [FMI]

As you can see, the construction sector is alive and well, and it looks likely that things are going to continue in this vein for the foreseeable future.

As long as people need things to build, construction is going to be big business. But how safe is it, and what kind of safety levels are we looking at for workers in the present moment?

The Big Picture

It might be helpful to consider construction first and foremost within the broader picture of working sectors and employment generally. If we look at accidents and injuries across industries, how does the construction sector appear to stand up to the rest? We might always expect there to be an imbalance here, owing to the nature of the work, and that is something that we will find is confirmed. But how much of a difference is there, and is it to the level that we might expect in most cases, and which we also tend to see in many other countries around the world? Again, as ever, the numbers can illustrate it for us very clearly.

 

  • In 2016, around 10 million workers were working within the construction industry in the U.S. [IMEC]
  • 991 deaths out of 4,693 were in construction as opposed to other industries. That means that 21% of all worker deaths in the U.S. were in construction. [IMEC]

As we can see, the construction industry is very much where we would expect it to be when it comes to comparing it to other sectors. With 21% of all worker deaths being in construction, it is definitely the most dangerous sector there is to work in, and that very much confirms our suspicions.

Construction Industry In Detail

We have now given an overview of the construction industry, and we have compared it in major figures to other sectors and industries too. But it is now important to look into the sector itself in a little more detail so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of exactly what kinds of injuries take place when they take place, how often and to what the number of people, and so on.

With this kind of information in place, we should be able to generate a much bigger and more reliable picture on the whole.

We will look at all of this in a range of different sections focusing on different aspects or elements of these accident statistics, and try to form the most complete picture we can.

Main Causes Of Construction Accidents

One of the main things that can be good to know is what the major causes of accidents are in construction.

Not only can that help us to plan better as individuals and team, but also ensure that businesses and the industry as a whole are doing whatever they can to try and protect against these specific problems in the future.

So here are some of the most common causes of accidents in construction in recent years.

  • Of fatal injuries, falls from a height are often the most common, and that was certainly the case in 2018, with 48% of injuries in construction being a result of a fall from a height. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • Of the remaining 52% of fatal injuries in that same year, there are four different kinds of the cause of injury which all share equally that percentage. These are: being trapped by something collapsing; being struck by an object; being struck by a moving vehicle; and being in contact with electricity. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • There were 58,000 non-fatal injuries in the same year. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • When it comes to non-fatal injuries, the most common cause of accidents is slip, trip and fall – at 24% of the accidents. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • Manual handling issues constituted around 21% of those 58,000. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • At 19%, falling from a height is particularly high, and is actually the highest of any industry in the country. [Gorilla Scaffolding]
  • Finally, being struck by moving objects accounted for 12% of these 58,000 non-fatal accidents in construction in 2018. [Gorilla Scaffolding]

It is clear from these numbers that there are some definite causes of accidents and injuries in construction in the U.S., and that many of them would be completely avoidable if we were all more careful, and if more care was placed onto these things by construction companies too.

If we can tackle the causes, after all, then we will find that we have effectively addressed the issue itself much more resolutely indeed.

Construction Injury Statistics

As well as looking into the causes, it might also be a good idea to appreciate more fully how many people in real numbers are injured in construction jobs every year.

Looking at that can help to put more of a human side of things, and will mean that we can know pretty clearly exactly how many people are affected.

It’s also interesting to look at these numbers with regards to how many per capita are injured, as that helps us in comparing and contrasting it to other sectors and industries too.

Let’s take a look at the people injured in some precise figures now.

  • One in ten construction workers is injured every year. [OSHA]
  • Over the course of a career spanning 45 years, the average construction worker has a 1 in 200 chance of dying. [Safety & Health Magazine]
  • The job with the highest injury rate in construction is ironwork. [AOL]
  • The construction injury is the number 2 biggest in the U.S. for fatal injuries to those under 18 years of age. [NCBI]
  • 60% of injuries in construction workplaces take place within the first year of that individual’s employment. [BLS]
  • Between 2002 and 2012, 19.5% of all U.S. workplace deaths were in the construction industry. [EHS Today]
  • Last year, there were 14,240 cases of injury via misused parts and materials. [Construct Connect]
  • There are now around 150,000 construction site accidents per year. [BLS]
  • In 2005, 1,224 construction workers died on the job, making it the most dangerous industry at that time. [NIOSH]
  • In 1992, the number of fatal accidents in the construction sector in the U.S. was 963. In 2005, it was 1,224. [Schwebel]
  • There was a 16% increase in construction industry fatalities between 2012 and 2015. [Capterra]
  • Construction struck-by deaths are up 34% since 2010. [CPWR]
  • Companies that have 10 or fewer employees and self-employed construction workers account for nearly half of all construction industry deaths. [CDC]
  • Construction has non-fatal injury rates, which are 71% higher than any other industry in the U.S. [NCBI]

As you can see, in real numbers and percentages, there are a great many people being injured every year in construction, in both a serious sense and a non-fatal one too.

What’s more, the numbers show that this is only rising year after year, and that is what is truly concerning.

However, with the right approach, this could possibly get better over time, and we should not feel as though all is lost just yet.

Construction Accidents: Financial Costs & Workers’ Compensation

There is much more to all this than just the injuries and deaths themselves, though they are the most important issue of course.

There is also the fact that such injuries cause costs to be mounted, for businesses and individuals alike. In the case of companies, you have issues such as lost customers. In the case of the workers that injured in construction incidents, they might have to lose out on income, and in many cases, they might need to seek compensation merely to get by.

Looking at these figures can help us to draw up a clearer picture of the whole of what kind of effect injuries have in these ways, so let’s take a look.

 

  • Around half of the serious injuries go unreported every year – so no compensation there. [LD&G]
  • One fatal injury will cost the family in question around $991,027 in hospital costs. [ConvergePoint]
  • The construction industry has a 71% higher spend on workers’ compensation than all the goods-producing industries combined. [CWPR]
  • 15% of the workers’ compensation costs spent in the U.S. are spent on workers who were injured at a construction site. [Workers Compensation]
  • Companies lose around 104,000,000 production days a year as a result of work-related injuries. [NSC]
  • As well as the direct costs of injury, there are also indirect costs. In fact, these can be up to 17 times as much as direct costs in the construction industry. [Safety & Health Magazine]
  • A construction company will save around $32,000 for each injury that is avoided at work. [NSC]
  • Construction site injuries account for 6-9% of project costs. [CPWR]
  • 15% of workers’ compensation costs were spent on workers injured at construction sites. [Workers Compensation]

 

With all of these obvious direct and indirect costs to both the employer and the employee, it is obvious that it is much better for all in financial terms if the accident is avoided in the first place. That means that businesses can save money by spending just a little on better health and safety training and so on and that workers might well often have a good case for compensation. This is truly illuminating, and the kind of thing that really sets the construction industry apart from the rest.

With figures like these ones, there has never been a better time to work towards a safer construction industry in the US than now.

If you were injured in a construction accident or other work-related incident you need to get medical attention as soon as possible, click here to find top workers’ compensation doctors near you. Afterward, you may need to get in touch with an experienced construction accident lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.