NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Fatal falls among older construction workers.

Dong XS; Wang X; Daw C
Hum Factors 2012 Jun; 54(3):303-315
OBJECTIVE: This study examines recent trends and patterns in fall fatalities in the U.S. construction industry to determine whether fatal falls among older workers are different from younger workers in this industry. BACKGROUND: Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the U.S. construction industry. Given the increasingly aging workforce in construction, it is important to assess the risk of falls among older construction workers. METHODS: Fatality data were obtained from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for the years 1992 through 2008. Denominators for death rates were estimated from the Current Population Survey. Stratified and multivariate analyses were performed to examine whether there are differences in fatal falls between older workers (> or = 55 years) and younger workers (16-54 years). Fatal falls in nonconstruction industries were excluded from this study. RESULTS: Older workers had higher rates of fatal falls than younger workers; results were significant in 11 of 14 construction occupations. Regression analysis indicated that older decedents had a higher likelihood that work-related death was caused by a fall, after controlling for major demographic and employment factors (odds ratio = 1.50, confidence interval [1.30, 1.72]). Falls from roofs accounted for one third of construction fatal falls, but falls from ladders caused a larger proportion of deadly falls in older decedents than in younger decedents. CONCLUSION: Older workers have a higher likelihood of dying from a fall. Roofs and ladders are particularly risky for older construction workers. APPLICATION: As the construction workforce ages, there is an urgent need to enhance fall prevention efforts, provide work accommodations, and match work capabilities to job duties.
Accidents; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Construction; Construction-workers; Age-factors; Age-groups; Statistical-analysis; Workers; Work-capability; Work-performance; Humans; Men; Women; Sociological-factors; Author Keywords: aging workforce; construction; fall injury; fatality; older workers
Xiuwen Sue Dong, CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training, 8484 Georgia Ave., Ste. 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-009762; B08012012
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training, Silver Spring, Maryland
Page last reviewed: July 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division