The construction industry is notably a dangerous industry to work in. Construction workers are at a high risk for injury due to the nature of the occupation, often requiring strenuous physical labor and taking place in dangerous work environments. From data collected on occupational injuries by industry, the construction industry has consistently reported among the highest number of fatal work-related injuries of all industries analyzed. With the known hazards that construction workers face on the job, several governmental organizations have made efforts to increase awareness on injury prevention and minimize the number of deaths. 

OSHA’s Fatal Four

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the top four fatal construction injuries. According to OSHA, the top four causes of construction fatalities are:

  1. Falls
  2. Struck by an object
  3. Caught in/between
  4. Electrocution 

In addition to these four fatal injuries, the New Mexico construction accident attorneys at Liles White PLLC have handled cases involving negligence of employers or other parties and indicate some of the most common causes of construction site accidents which include:

  • Insufficient fall protections
  • Defective scaffolding
  • Improper machinery protection
  • Improper electrocution protection
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Lack of safety gear for workers

Fatal Construction Injuries

In the 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on fatal occupational injuries, 1,008 fatal injuries were reported in the construction industry. This accounted for 21% of all fatal occupational injuries in 2020. The report from the BLS breaks down the fatal injuries in each industry into event or exposure which caused the injury.

The following breakdown represents the number of fatal injuries caused by each event or exposure in the construction industry in 2020:

  • Violence and other injuries by persons or animals: 55
  • Transportation incidents: 247
  • Fires and explosions: 9
  • Falls, slips, trips: 368
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 174
  • Contact with object and equipment: 153

In relation to totals across all industries, the construction industry reported the highest number of workplace deaths in 2020. Of the 805 fatal occupational injuries from falls, slips, and trips in 2020, over 45% occurred in the construction industry. 

Of the total 1,008 fatal construction injuries in 2020, 192 occurred in the construction of buildings and 194 occurred in heavy civil and engineering construction. 576 deaths from construction injuries occurred among specialty trade contractors, including structural steel contractors, masonry contractors, roofing contractors, and more. 

Non-Fatal Construction Injuries

In a post on U.S. Construction Injury Statistics, a total of 174,000 non-fatal injuries were reported in the construction industry in 2020. According to data on non-fatal occupational injuries from the BLS, 74,500 cases involved construction workers having days away from work as a result of non-fatal injuries. 

pie chart on non-fatal construction injuries by nature of injury or illness

Data from the BLS breaks down the nature of injury for non-fatal construction injuries in 2020 into the following categories:

  • Sprains, strains, or tears: 20,640
  • Soreness or pain: 14,190
  • Fractures: 9,710
  • Cuts or lacerations: 7,780
  • Bruises or contusions: 3,470

The same report indicates the part of the body most commonly affected in non-fatal construction injuries in 2020: 

  • Back: 10,450
  • Hand: 9,760
  • Knee: 6,340
  • Multiple body parts: 6,150
  • Body systems: 5,640

Also in the same report, the most frequently reported events or exposures causing non-fatal construction injuries were broken down into the following categories:

  • Struck by object or equipment: 13,640
  • Fall to lower level: 10,790
  • Fall on same level: 7,010
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments: 6,580
  • Overexertion in lifting or lowering: 6,310