Construction Workers More Prone To Workplace Injuries

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

A new study published by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), reveals a startling contrast in the rate of injury and death for those in the construction industry versus those in other industries. This data reflects similar trends in data from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC) and highlights the need for contractors to be highly aware of the safety risks that surround their workers and take immediate and thorough action to protect workers from unsafe equipment, behaviors and work sites in order to facilitate a workplace that anticipates human error.

CPWR Study

The CPWR study determined that construction workers have a 75 percent chance of experiencing a disabling injury while on the job over a 45-year career. Even more sobering is the conclusion that construction workers have a one in 200 chance of dying due as a result of workplace injury or illness. Other CPWR studies have found that Hispanic workers have a higher risk of injury and death, and construction workers over age 50 have more incidences of serious illness like chronic lung disease and arthritis than their white-collar peers.

The CPWR research also highlighted that the leading causes of death for construction workers between 1992 and 2008 were construction site falls, transportation accidents and contact with objects. The leading causes of non-fatal injuries included contact with objects (in which workers were usually struck), falls and overexertion.

CDC Research

Data from the CDC supports the CPWR's findings. The CDC concluded that in 2009, construction workers had a fatality risk three times higher than all other workers, a rate of almost 10 in 100,000. Of all the injuries that resulted in time off in 2009, nine percent were sustained by construction workers. According to the CDC, falls were the most common cause of death and injury for construction workers in 2009.

Sadly, data on injury and fatality rates for New York construction workers reflects the national trends confirmed by the CPWR and CDC. In July 2011, the most recent month for which data is available, there were 64 construction worker accidents, resulting in 67 injuries and three fatalities. The most common causes of both injury and death were worker falls and material falling on a worker.

Taking Action

Though sobering, the data should remind workers and contractors that a construction site is a dangerous place and efforts should be made to educate workers and enforce safety protocol. New York law places the responsibility for safe work sites squarely on the shoulders of construction contractors, managers and subcontractors. They are required to nominate a site safety coordinator who is responsible for formulating a site safety plan and enforcing its provisions. Safety plans should anticipate the element of human error and try to foresee areas and tasks that pose safety risks, like working on scaffolding.

Fortunately, construction workers are able to recover compensation for their workplace injuries beyond what is required for their employees to provide by workers' compensation law. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a construction injury or illness, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.