The characteristics of fatalities which occurred in both the United States (US) and Australian construction industries from 1988 to 1991 were compared. In the US, fatality data were obtained from the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities surveillance system, while in Australia, the information was gleaned from work related fatality data bases. Construction workers were at high risk in both countries, with a mortality risk two times higher than that of the average worker. The annual mortality rate in the US was 13.8 deaths per 100,000 construction workers (13.8/100,000), whereas in Australia the rate was 11.6/100,000. In both countries, the four leading causes of death were falls, motor vehicle accidents, electrocutions, and machine related incidents. Falls alone accounted for over 25% of the fatalities. Among construction workers, laborers had the highest fatality rates: 32.3/100,000 in the US and 26.6/100,000 in Australia. In both countries, men were at higher risk than women. Compared to other age groups, more fatalities occurred in the 25 to 29 year old group, which accounted for 15% of the deaths in the US and 13.5% of the deaths in Australia. Mortality rates varied among the different regions within each country. The authors conclude that in both the US and Australia, construction workers are at high risk for fatal injuries.
Timothy Ore, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505