42 Percent of Construction Worker Deaths Involve Falls, New Database Shows

In a 33-year period, falls accounted for 42 percent of all construction worker deaths – and more than half of the workers killed lacked access to fall protection – according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

Using data from the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, researchers found fatality reports for 768 construction industry fatalities and created a searchable database, the Construction FACE Database, of those reports.

After analyzing the incidents in the new database, researchers concluded that, between 1982 and 2015:

  • 42 percent (325) of the fatalities involved falls.
  • 54 percent of the workers killed had no access to a personal fall arrest system, and 23 percent had access to a PFAS but did not use it.
  • Most of the workers with no access to PFAS worked for residential building contractors and contractors in the roofing, siding and sheet metal sectors.
  • 107 of the 325 falls were from 30 feet or higher.
  • 20 percent of the 768 deaths occurred in the victims’ first two months on the job.“Even though this study was unable to assess effectiveness of the OSHA fall protection standard established in 1995, the considerable number of fall fatalities from lower heights provides strong evidence of the need for the OSHA requirement that fall protection be provided at elevations of 6 feet or more in the construction industry,” researchers said.

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