A long-term study, which looked at construction site accidents over a period of nearly 20 years, concluded that that leading cause of injury and death was falls from heights. The joint study from the Center for the Protection of Worker Rights and the Center for Construction Research and Training, showed that approximately one of every three construction site accidents involved a fall by a worker.
Fatal Construction Site Falls
According to the study, falls from heights accounted for almost half of the fatal construction site accidents (48.7%) over an 18 year period. During that time period, nearly 7,000 construction workers died in falls, an average of nearly 360 a year. As expected, roofers had a high fatality rate—nearly eight times that of the average construction worker. Surprisingly, though, electrical workers were at even more risk, with a mortality rate nine times that of the average construction employee. Older construction workers were more likely to die in a construction fall, as were Hispanic workers.
Construction Site Fall Injuries
The study also found that about 25% of the non-fatal injuries suffered on construction sites were from falls—an average of approximately 20,000 such injuries were reported every year. According to the study, more construction site workers were hurt in falls than in all other industries combined. The most-cited cause of a construction site fall was the absence of guardrails or other protective barriers on upper levels, causing workers to plummet from one story to another. Other frequent causes were falls from ladders or scaffolding, and falls from roofs.
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