Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. This guide to construction injury statistics breaks down leading causes of death and injury in this profession.
Construction is one of the United States’ most prominent industries, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s also one of its most dangerous industries. The type of work required and the hazards involved in the construction industry often create a much higher risk of occupational injury than workers face in other industries.
This article will review essential statistics about the number of construction injuries and deaths that occurred on job sites in 2019.
- In 2019, 1,061 private industry construction workers were killed on the job, accounting for approximately 20% of all private industry worker fatalities for the year.
- Four construction site hazards known as the “Construction Focus Four” caused 709 deaths in 2019, or 64.3% of all construction fatalities for the year.
- The construction industry reported 79,660 nonfatal injuries in 2019, for an injury rate of 112.3 per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers.
- In 2019, the leading cause of nonfatal construction injuries was contact with objects or equipment, accounting for 32.8% of all nonfatal construction injuries for the year.
Fatal Construction Injury Statistics
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 5,333 workers died from work-related injuries in 2019, which amounts to 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs), or approximately 15 deaths a day. About 20% (1,061) of worker fatalities in private industry occurred in the construction industry.
The February 2021 Data Bulletin on Fatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) reviewed data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and summarized changes in fatal construction injuries occurring between 2011 to 2019.In 2019, the number of fatal construction injuries reached 1,102, which was a 41.1% increase from 2011 and the highest number of deaths in the period. However, while the number of fatal injuries increased, the fatality rate stayed about the same, ranging from 9 to 10 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTEs between 2011 and 2019.
“Construction Focus Four” Fatalities
OSHA has identified four construction site hazards that account for the majority of construction fatalities, known as the Construction Focus Four, which caused 709 deaths in 2019, or 64.3% of all construction fatalities for the year.
The Construction Focus Four include:
- Falls to a lower level: injuries caused by the impact between a falling person and a lower surface, such as a fall from a roof to the ground
- Struck-by incidents: injuries caused when the victim is hit by a vehicle, object, or equipment
- Electrocutions: injuries caused by contact with electricity, including direct contacts like touching a live wire and indirect contacts such as contact with a pipe touching a power line
- Caught-in/between incidents: injuries where the victim or part of their body is caught in or crushed by equipment or other objects or is caught in or compressed by collapsing materials
A detailed breakdown of the number of fatal injuries caused by the Construction Focus Four in the last three years for which data is available is included in the chart below.
Nonfatal Construction Worker Injuries
CPWR’s December 2020 Data Bulletin on Nonfatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry examined nonfatal construction injury statistics between 2003 and 2019 using information from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, another BLS data collection.
The construction industry reported 79,660 nonfatal injuries in 2019, for an injury rate of 112.3 per 10,000 FTEs. This rate is 56.7% lower than the 2003 rate of 259.4 per 10,000 FTEs. Even though the construction injury rate has steadily declined over the years, it was consistently higher than the injury rate for all industries combined.
Construction injuries also tended to be more severe than injuries in other industries and typically caused more missed days at work. The risk of injury varied greatly between sizes of construction companies. In 2019, the injury rate for establishments with 11 to 49 employees was five times higher than for those with 1,000 or more.
Causes of Nonfatal Injuries
In 2019, the leading cause of nonfatal construction injuries was contact with objects or equipment such as excavators, loaders and graders, resulting in over 26,000 injuries. This accounted for nearly one in three of all nonfatal construction industry injuries for the year (32.8% of 79,660).
Most of the construction injuries caused by contact with objects or equipment involved an object of some sort striking a worker, accounting for 15,830 injuries in 2019, or about one-fifth of all the nonfatal construction injuries in the year (19.9% of 79,660). The most common type of nonfatal construction fall injury was a fall to a lower level.
The causes of nonfatal injuries in 2019 are detailed further in the chart below.If you or a member of your family has been injured or killed on a construction site, you may be eligible to receive compensation. In most states, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover on-the-job injuries. In some situations, you may be able to initiate a lawsuit against your employer or another responsible party.
The first step in seeking compensation is to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney near you. Most law firms offer free initial consultations, so there is nothing to lose by scheduling a meeting.