Study: Falls Are Most Common Cause of Death for Construction Workers

A new study released by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed that falls remain the second leading cause of death for workers across the country. The study showed that falls represented 14 percent of all workplace fatalities in the United States during an 11-year period between 2003 and 2014. Workers with the highest rates of fatal falls were employed in the construction industry, representing 42.2 percent of all fatalities, and installation, maintenance, and repair, representing 12.5 percent of all workplace fatalities caused by falls.

Overall, a total of 8,800 workers died in America as the result of a fall during this 11-year period. The falls were further divided into the “length of the fall” and, unsurprisingly, workers that fell a single story or more were more likely to die as a result – with 84.7 percent of all worker deaths caused by a fall of “more than one level.” For workers that fell, but not a full story or level, only 12.7 percent of workers died. The remaining 2.6 percent passed away from “all other types of falls.”

To prevent workplace falls, the National Fall Prevention Campaign, in collaboration with NIOSH, OSHA, and the Center for Construction Research and Training provides several guidelines, which include:

  • Planning ahead so the job can get done safely, which includes detailing the types of equipment and tools that will be necessary to safely perform the job.
  • Providing the correct equipment, especially when workers are working at heights of six feet or more, the height where most fatal falls occur.
  • Train all workers about the hazards of falling and how to use safety equipment properly

Speaking to Safety and Health Magazine, the study’s researchers said that, “Prevention of work-related falls remains a challenge among U.S. workers, and our results indicate that work-related falls continue to be a problem, especially among certain worker groups. The lack of a substantial decrease in rates of fatal work-related falls suggests a continued need for collaboration of regulators and industry leaders, professional associations and labor unions, employers and employees, safety professionals and researchers.”

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