In part one of this three-part article, the OSHA defense lawyers at Cotney Construction Law discussed a collection of studies published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) comparing data over a period of 25 years. This data, which contains in-depth information covering work-related injuries, fatal injuries, and illnesses, helps shed light on the state of worker safety in the United States and gives valuable insight about ways employers can improve workplace safety. OSHA records information related to workplace fatalities covering over 100 geographic areas including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. In part two, we will continue to examine this data before wrapping up in part three.
Breaking Down Injury, Illness, and Fatality Data by Industry
Can you guess which industry had the largest number of work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities? If you guessed the construction industry, you’re right on the money. OSHA examined the number of work-related fatalities for some of the most dangerous roles in a variety of industries including construction, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, and more from 2003 to 2016. The construction industry (13,782 fatalities) contributed thousands of more workplace fatalities than the next most dangerous industry, transportation and warehousing (10,952).
OSHA tallied the following statistics for work-related deaths for various occupations in the construction industry between 2003 and 2016:
- Construction Laborers: 3,327
- First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers: 1,339
- Carpenters: 1,121
- Roofers: 991
- Electricians: 826
Confronting the Grim Outlook for 55+ Workers
Although it seems as though workers from certain age groups, like the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 range, are experiencing a decrease in fatal occupational injuries according to an OSHA study that examined fatality rates in various age groups from 1992 to 2016, the number of work-related fatalities for workers in the 55 to 64 and 65 and older age groups has risen. In 1992, workers in this age group accounted for roughly 20 percent of fatal injuries. In 2016, this percentage had increased to a whopping 36 percent. As it stands, older workers are nearly three times more likely to be killed on the job. The solution? Invest in ongoing training for older workers to keep them safe on the project site and ensure that they are comfortable with all the tools and technology needed to fulfil their roles and complete their jobs while mitigating potential risks.
The Disproportionate Rate of Foreign-Born Worker Fatalities
Since OSHA began recording birthplace data in 2001, foreign-born workers have regularly represented 16 to 20 percent of work-related fatalities. Many causes can be attributed to the 14,562 foreign-born worker fatalities that occurred from 2001 to 2016, but the language barrier between English-speaking and non-English-speaking workers is undoubtedly one of the main causes. The most frequent countries of origin of employees who suffered from work-related fatalities in the United States from 2001 to 2016 included Mexico (6,046), Guatemala (545), El Salvador (533), and India (533).
For more information spanning 25 years of OSHA records discussing worker injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, read part three.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.