The National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system was searched to identify all machinery related fatal accidents in the construction industry reported from 1980 through 1992. The details of each accident were examined. There were 1,901 machinery related deaths reported to the NTOF system during the 13 year (yr) study period. This represented an average annual fatality rate of 2.13 deaths per 100,000 workers. The largest number of deaths, 174, occurred in 1981 and the smallest, 95, in 1992. The annual fatality rates decreased during the study period, from 2.69/100,000 in 1980 to 1.35/100,000 in 1992. Males accounted for all but 22 of the deaths, 98.8% of the total. The occupation division of 1,398 deaths that occurred from 1983 through 1992 could be identified. Workers in three occupation divisions accounted for 87.6% of the deaths: precision production, craft, and repair; transportation and material moving; and handlers, equipment cleaners, helpers, and laborers. Examination of detailed occupation codes for 341 deaths that occurred between 1990 and 1992 indicated that nearly half the deaths occurred among two occupations, construction laborers and operating engineers, which accounted for 23.5 and 22.6% of the total, respectively. Cranes, excavating machines, and tractors were the machines most frequently involved in the accidents throughout the entire 13yr period, accounting for 16.1, 15.1, and 14.9% of the total, respectively. The most frequent types of fatal accidents were: being struck, pinned, crushed or run over by a mobile machine; being injured by overturning of a mobile machine; and being struck by a boom, bucket, or lift arm. The authors conclude that machinery related fatalities represented the fourth leading cause of death in the US construction industry from 1980 through 1992. The study findings also suggest that injury prevention programs should focus on those who work around machines as well as those who operate the machines.
Stephanie G. Pratt, National Insitute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, Mailstop 180-P, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888