15 Surprising and Informative Construction Injury Statistics
The construction industry, by its nature alone, is easily among the most dangerous. There are scores of fatalities every year, and statistics prove that almost one out of every five worker deaths is related to construction in some form or other.
The following construction injury statistics highlight the ways that construction businesses might make changes or alter their protocols in a way that reduces the number of injuries and deaths that can occur.
While safety measures like those imposed by OSHA are often a source of complaint and irritation to business owners and management, they save lives. The ROI on implementing such guidelines is enormous, and a simple can of these construction injury statistics will quickly demonstrate the truth of that statement.
Fascinating Construction Injury Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- Studies show that businesses can save $8 for every dollar spent on a quality health and safety program
- More than 1 in 5 workers deaths were from the construction industry in 2017
- Construction accounts for 4% of workers but 20.7% of worker deaths
- Companies with 10 or fewer employees and those who are self-employed account for nearly half of all deaths on construction sites
- Eliminating the “Fatal Four” causes of construction accidents would save 582 workers’ lives in the United States each year
Some Basic Facts and Stats
1. Every construction worker will face at least one work-related injury in their lifetime.
Construction industry statistics indicate that during a 45-year career, a construction worker faces a one in 200 chance that they will die from a work-related incident. The rates for non-fatal injury as equally high, currently at 71% higher than any other industry, and roughly half of all injuries go unreported. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics does indicate that construction worker injuries and illnesses have declined since the 1970s and are around 2.8 per 100 workers (in 2017).
(SOURCE: Safety + Health)
2. The first year construction employees face 60% of workplace injuries.
Noting that younger workers are injured more often, construction industry statistics noted that they are also often hurt not as seriously as their old counterparts. Though men aged 28-47 had the highest accident rates, frequency declined with age while the severity of injury (attributed to more readily fractured bones and the overall impact of an injury on an older person) increased.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
3. There were 79,800 non-fatal injuries in construction in the US in 2017.
The National Safety Council noted that back injuries are at the top with 11,690 injuries per year, and hand injuries not far behind at 11,200. The Fatal Four from OSHA account for almost 60% of construction worker deaths. Still, it is lifting, using machinery, and carrying heavy objects that also top the list of construction industry statistics relating to the injury.
The Cost of Construction Site Injuries and Deaths
4. Construction accounts for 4% of workers but 21% of worker deaths.
Construction injury statistics are horrifying, and though some studies say there are improvements (such as the fewest number of crane-related deaths occurred in 2017), the numbers are still catastrophic. OSHA notes that one in every 10 construction workers is injured annually.
5. 6-9% of project costs are consumed for construction site injuries, while health and safety programs take only 2.5% of the costs.
Construction industry statistics show that the costs of injury are also subtracted from the contractor’s bottom line. They are not depreciable, and cannot be written off in any way. Companies must sell an additional $1,667,000 in services in order to recoup $50,000 in losses from injuries, illnesses, or damage and make a 3% profit, Studies proved that the higher a firm invests in safety programs, the lower their injury rates and higher their profits.
(Source: Construction Safety Association of Ontario)
6. Construction site injuries soak up 15% of workers’ compensation costs.
According to the Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, the benefit payments under workers’ compensation programs amounted to $61.9 billion in 2015, but have increased since. Some experts call it devastating to the US budget as well as dysfunctional, and that 15% represents billions of dollars annually. And one group notes that the construction industry sees a 71% higher spend on workers’ compensation than all goods-producing industries combined.
(Source: Workers Compensation)
The ROI of Construction Safety
7. The hospital costs for one fatal workplace injury amount for an average of $991,027.
Safety training is valuable within a company, and it can have a positive impact on ROI. The National Safety Council pointed out that indicating that the cost to society for a fatality can be as high as $1.42 million. Implementing safety standards and training would have an enormous societal and industry return.
8. Single medical consultation costs construction employers an average of $32,000.
The National Safety Council notes that there are more than 104 million production days lost due to workplace injuries annually and that around $660 billion in preventable injuries occur. Because a worker is injured every seven seconds, the potential savings from workplace safety training are almost unlimited, including more than one million dollars in possible savings from each occupational fatality avoided. Additionally, construction companies can save $4 in indirect costs for every $1 in direct costs by evading an injury in the workplace.
(Source: National Safety Council)
9. Quality health & safety programs save businesses $8 for every dollar spent.
As reported in Construction Business Owner, there are immense costs to businesses that avoid health and safety programs. From $70k or more per OSHA violation to the roughly $128 billion+ that businesses carry due to non-fatal workplace injuries each year, it is foolhardy to skimp on health and safety programs, and the returns substantial.
(Source: Construction Business Owner)
10. Self-employed construction workers or companies with up to 10 employees account for nearly half of all fatal injuries.
Implementation of rigorous safety standards by companies of all sizes would dramatically alter construction industry statistics. The CDC reported that Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees account for 92.5% of all construction establishments, and 41.4% of all construction employees work in small businesses. This group then features the highest mortality rate of all construction workers, and the ROI on health and safety programs would be immense.
OSHA Standards to Change Construction Injury Statistics
11. Implementing OSHA 29 CFR 1926.501 standards related to fall protection will save lives.
It was noted that falls accounted for 381 out of 971 deaths in construction in 2017. This is almost 40% of the total deaths reported in construction injury statistics. Falls are among the OSHA “fatal four,” which are the four leading causes for death in the construction industry every year. If better implemented, this OSHA rule would force employers to determine if the “walking/working surfaces on which its employees are to work have the strength and structural integrity to support employees safely.”
12. Better Implementation of OSHA 29 CFR 1926.451 standards means improved scaffolding safety.
One of the most frequently reported construction injury statistics relates to falls and fall protection, and injuries due to scaffolding related problems are part of the whole fall-injury issue and figure prominently into construction injury statistics. This guideline asks that “each scaffold and scaffold component shall be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.” However, it also demands a direct connection to structures, ropes and securing mechanisms, and more.
13. Better implementation of OSHA 29 CFR 1926.1053 standards would enhance safety with ladders.
Falling and construction injury statistics are sharply related, and ladders are some of the main culprits in worksite falls and deaths. Because of this, the guidelines around ladders imposed by OSHA are detailed and specific. They emphasize loads that ladders must be able to support “without failure,” and include self-supporting portable ladders, fixed ladders, and more.
14. Better implementation of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 standards would reduce the risk of occupational diseases and injury.
Construction workers account for 15% of reported lead poisoning in the United States, according to the CDC. There are many areas of construction where mercury exposure is possible, but other poisons and irritating materials (asbestos and concrete, for example) can cause illness or injury. So, where companies have to provide respirators where necessary.
15. Training in OSHA 1910.78 would enhance safety with powered industrial trucks.
The least known of the OSHA Fatal Four that kills the largest number of construction workers annual is the “caught in or between an object” incident. Around 50 people a year are killed in this way.
Construction Injury Statistics Key Takeaways
One look at construction injury statistics proves it to be one of the most dangerous fields for men ages 25 and up. Those who remain in the industry face a 1 in 200 chance of death and are highly likely to be injured (often severely) while on the job.
Organizations like the OSHA exist to ensure workplace safety, and their studies have shown that by implementing their rules and standards, an enormous number of injuries and fatalities would not occur each year.
There are tremendous financial costs to the industry and to society for the injuries and deaths that occur in the construction industry. The return on investment or ROI for health and safety training and adherence to OSHA standards is substantial. It is a shame that the value of human health and safety becomes a line on a spreadsheet, but as seen in this data, it is something that businesses consider a financial item.
OSHA estimates that regulations aimed at “eliminating the Fatal Four, would save more than 500 workers’ lives in America every year.” Based on industry statistics, that would translate to more than hundreds of millions of dollars, reducing insurance costs and the pain and suffering that avoidable injuries and deaths caused.