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Construction fatalities increase as economic recovery continues

Construction fatalities increase as economic recovery continues

Fatalities are increasing in the U.S. construction industry, particularly among Hispanic workers, as the sector continues to recover from the economic recession, according to a new study. 

The number of fatalities among construction workers climbed to 985 in 2015 after dipping to 781 in 2011, a 26% increase over four years, according to a study by CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

The annual number of fatal falls in construction increased by 36.4% from 269 in 2011 to 367 in 2015, according to the CPWR study. In comparison, 63 employees suffered fatal falls in the manufacturing sector — the second highest number of deaths among major industries. 

In 2016, 10.3 million U.S. workers were employed in construction, a 16% increase after construction employment bottomed out in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although overall construction employment is still lower than the pre-recession level, the number of Hispanic construction workers reached 3 million in 2016, slightly surpassing its peak level in 2007, with nearly 30% of construction workers identifying themselves as Hispanic, according to the data. 

Fatal falls increased at a faster pace among Hispanic workers compared to non-Hispanic workers, with the number of deaths of Hispanic construction workers increasing 28.3% from 106 in 2014 to 136 in 2015, according to the CPWR study. In contrast, the number of fall deaths among non-Hispanic construction workers dropped to 217 in 2015, a 10% decrease from 241 in 2014. 

Overall, 55.3% of 1,294 fall fatalities in construction between 2011 and 2015 occurred at a height of 20 feet or less, according to data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Falls from roofs accounted for 33% of fatal injuries while falls from ladders represented 24% of fatalities and falls from scaffolds were 15% of construction deaths between 2011 and 2015. 

The latest data was released on Monday in support of the National Fall Prevention Campaign on Workers’ Memorial Day — now in its 6th year. 



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