NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :1
Construction is both one of the largest and one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, but there is little literature on fatality risk by occupation within this industry. This study assessed work-related injury fatality risk by occupation and cause of death within the construction industry, using data contained in the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) surveillance system and the BLS Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1990 to 1991. Annual fatality rates were calculated for occupations with six or more work-related injury deaths during the 2-year period and presented as the number of deaths per 100,000 workers. Cause-specific annual rates were also calculated for occupations with 50 or more deaths during the 2 years. Frequencies and rates are presented for the civilian workforce only, because denominator data were not available for military personnel. A total of 1,964 work-related injury deaths occurred in the construction industry in the United States during 1990 to 1991. Construction has an average annual fatality rate of 13.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Occupations with 100 or more deaths during the 2 years are construction laborers (463 deaths), construction supervisors (161), carpenters (153), operating engineers (146), electricians (103), and managers and administrators, n.e.c. (100). Fatalities from these six occupations accounted for 57.3% of fatalities in the construction industry. Annual fatality rates by occupation were presented and there were 22 occupations which have higher annual fatality rates than the average of 13.2 per 100,000 workers for the entire construction industry. The six occupations with the highest annual fatality rates were electrical power installers and repairers (84.6 deaths per 100,000 workers); structural metal workers (74.7); operating engineers (47.7); engineering technicians, n.e.c. (44.8); drillers, earth (40.7); and construction laborers (33.3). Operating engineers and construction laborers were the occupations with both a high annual fatality rate and a large number of injury deaths. The leading cause of death varied among occupations. Falls were the leading cause of death for construction laborers; construction supervisors; carpenters; managers and administrators, n.e.c.; roofers; structural metal workers; construction and maintenance painters; and plumbers, pipe fitters, and steamfitters. Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for truck drivers and heavy construction trades, n.e.c. Machines were the leading cause of death for operating engineers. Electrocutions were the leading cause of death for electricians. Findings from this study are consistent with previous studies and underscore the urgent need for prevention measures for work-related fatalities among construction workers. Information on fatality risk by occupation and by cause of death could be useful for planning preventive strategies in the construction industry.