Fatality-data mining finds noon the deadliest hour on construction sites

A new report from Associated General Contractors of America and Virginia Tech University’s Myers-Lawson School of Construction confirms or clarifies long-held observations concerning project site safety. “Preventing Fatalities in the Construction Industry” is based on individual examination of 2,338 construction fatalities reported over the 2010-2012 period in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities (BLS/IIF) program.

Authors cite among potential contractor actions: Discuss risks associated with specialty trades and small establishments in the context of project location findings; ask which project location workers believe are safer than others, then present statistical findings; and, benchmark company data against national statistics, exploring how and why their results are similar or different. Available free of charge at www.agc.org/industry-priorities, the report analyzes site fatalities over a three-year period, and includes a breakout (below) of incidents by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-defined Project Locations and Specialty Trades.

“We all share a common goal: Getting to zero construction fatalities,” says AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr. “This report offers the kind of data and recommendations needed to help construction firms achieve that goal.” The best way to help contractors implement the most effective safety measures is to understand why, when and how construction fatalities occur, he adds.

Some report findings reinforce existing safety practices and related AGC programs, including those surrounding falls from ladders and structures, which account for one-third of U.S. construction fatalities. Other findings contrast with long-held industry assumptions, among them that most construction fatalities occur in the morning versus the actual peak hour, noon, AGC and Myers-Lawson representatives pinpointed from the BLS/IIF data. In response, AGC is advising contractors to look at holding safety talks and stretching sessions when workers return from the 11 a.m. to noon lunch breaks common on job sites.

The report also finds that Hispanic construction workers are not disproportionately victims of construction fatalities, as they account for 24 percent of the national workforce and 25 percent of deaths. Consequently, Sandherr notes, construction firms need to craft safety programs targeting their entire workforce instead of specific segments.

AGC unveiled “Preventing Fatalities” at a time when construction employment is expanding in many metro areas. An early-April analysis of construction employment data shows that 239 out of 358 metro areas—led by Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (9,000 jobs, 10 percent)—added construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017.

Number and percentage of specialty trades fatalities, 2010-2012