The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Aug. 19 reported that construction fatalities in 2009 fell 16 percent to 816, making it the lowest fatality rate in 18 years, according to preliminary numbers.
“The BLS census of fatal occupational injuries once again reinforces how the construction industry continues to build upon and refine site safety practices to prevent injuries to our greatest assets – our employees,” said Chris Williams, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) director of safety. “The continued, long-term reduction in construction industry fatalities is proof that the industry commitment to proactive safety training and hazard identification is still the most effective method to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.”
To support safety awareness on the jobsite, ABC offers the Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) program to its members, which allows member contractors to regularly evaluate and strengthen their programs, yielding safety performance that is consistently better than the industry average. When compared with national construction average, ABC members that participate in STEP have fatality rates that are 58 percent lower, OSHA injury rates that are 30 percent lower, and 90 percent fewer OSHA citations.
“The construction industry continues to work towards our ultimate goal of sending every employee home safely every night,” Williams said. “Both employers and employees will continue to partner to develop new practices and procedures that will continue our march toward that goal.”
The BLS report indicates the number of fatalities in construction declined 16 percent in 2009 after a decline of 19 percent in 2008. With this decrease, private construction fatalities are down by more than a third since reaching a series high in 2006. Economic conditions may explain much of this decline with total hours worked having declined 17 percent in construction in 2009, after a decline of 10 percent the year before. Fatal injuries involving workers in the construction of buildings were down 27 percent from 2008, with most of the decrease occurring in nonresidential building construction (down 44 percent to 55 cases). Heavy and civil engineering construction was down 12 percent, and the subsector with the largest number of fatal work injuries, specialty trade contractors, had 16 percent fewer fatalities in 2009 than in 2008. Read More.