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Young worker fatal injury in construction.

Suruda A; Philips P; Lillquist D; Sesek R; Reading J
NIOSH 2001 Mar; :1-76
This was a study of fatal work injury in the construction industry from 1984 through 1998 which focused on teenage workers. The study used OSHA investigation data to compare fatal injuries in teenagers with adults, to describe various factors related to fatal injury, and to determine whether fatalities among workers less than age 18 were in apparent violation of existing child labor regulations (hazardous orders). The investigation data were for 47 U.S. states for 1984-89, with California, Michigan, and Washington State excluded, and for all 50 states for 1990-1998. OSHA investigates fatal work injuries for which it has jurisdiction. Certain fatalities such as motor vehicle crashes and homicides are usually excluded. For the 15 year period we found 9,344 fatalities, with 326 in teenagers, of which 76 were in workers less than age 18. The fatality rate of 1.28 per 10,000 per year was somewhat lower than that found by NIOSH from death certificate data for 1980-1995 (1.52/1 O,OOO/year) but indicated that OSHA investigated the majority of deaths in the construction industry during 1984-1998. The OSHA investigation reports indicated that teenage workers who died were more likely than adults to be victims of electrocution or to be struck by industrial vehicles or materials handling equipment. A variety of types of vehicles and equipment were involved, such as dump trucks and bulldozers, and the teenage fatalities were usually bystander fatalities. No one type of equipment was reported significantly more for teenagers than adults. The fatalities from electrocution were from contact with service voltage (e.g., 110 V AC) and high voltage power lines. For the 76 fatalities among workers less than age 18,49% were in apparent violation of existing hazardous orders. The most frequently violated hazardous orders were trenching work and roofing (9 each), followed by operating a motor vehicle or being an outside helper (5), demolition work (3), operating a power saw (2), and operation of powered hoisting apparatus (1). There were 15 age violations (less than age 16), which are also considered violations of hazardous orders. We estimated that in 54% of the 76 fatalities the employer's gross annual income exceeded $500,000, the current threshold for federal enforcement of hazardous orders. Fatal work injuries among teenage construction workers were significantly more likely to be at small business firms with fewer than 11 employees (Odds Ratio = 1.72, p<.05) and far more likely to be at non-union firms (OR=4.96, p<.05). This study did not identify work activities which would justify promulgation of new hazardous orders. Additional research concerning the hazards of street and highway construction, or of hazards related to industrial vehicles should be considered. The findings of this study indicate the need for training for employers and young workers in non- union small firms, particularly with respect to existing hazardous orders, electrical work, and work in the vicinity of power lines and large vehicles such as in street and highway construction.
Humans; Case studies; Injuries; Traumatic injuries; Construction; Construction workers; Mortality data; Mortality rates; Children; Age factors; Age groups
Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Dept. of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, 75 South 2000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5120
Publication Date
Document Type
Final Cooperative Agreement Report
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Construction; Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Special Populations
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division