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Fatal falls in the private construction industry, 2003–14

April 26, 2016

From 2003 through 2014, fatal work injuries in the private construction industry declined by 21 percent. A total of 1,131 workplace deaths were recorded in construction in 2003, compared with 899 in 2014. This decrease resulted in part from the decline in construction employment during the 2007–09 recession.

Percentage of total private sector construction industry deaths caused by falls, 2003–14
Year Percent

Total

35.3

2003

32.2

2004

36.1

2005

33.1

2006

34.9

2007

37.1

2008

34.5

2009

33.9

2010

34.1

2011

35.5

2012

36.0

2013

36.5

2014

39.9

As the total number of fatalities in private construction has decreased, fatalities due to falls have accounted for an increasing percentage of the deaths at work in the industry. In 2003, 32 percent of all fatal work injuries in the industry resulted from falls, compared with 40 percent in 2014. While both the number of fatalities due to falls and the number of fatalities due to other events are lower in recent years than they were in the years before the recession, over the 2003–14 period fatalities due to falls have decreased less than fatalities due to other events.

Fatal falls to a lower level in private-sector construction, by source and height of fall, 2011–14
Height Roofs Ladders Scaffolds Other source

Unspecified height

39 75 23 34

More than 30 feet

67 10 39 95

26 to 30 feet

53 11 12 23

21 to 25 feet

63 24 18 24

16 to 20 feet

81 43 25 30

11 to 15 feet

81 45 26 42

6 to 10 feet

21 50 23 40

Less than 6 feet

(1) 23 6 24
Footnotes:

(1) No data were reported or data do not meet publication standards.

The vast majority of falls in private construction are falls to a lower level. Over the 2011–14 period, 35 percent of fatal falls to a lower level in private construction were from roofs (405 deaths). Ladders accounted for another 24 percent of fatal falls (281 deaths). Scaffolds and staging accounted for 15 percent of fatal falls (172 deaths). The most common height of fatal construction falls over the 2011–14 period was from more than 30 feet (211 deaths), though fatal falls of 11 to 15 feet were nearly as common (194 deaths).

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. From May 2–6, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is having a National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Fatal falls in the private construction industry, 2003–14 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/fatal-falls-in-the-private-construction-industry-2003-14.htm (visited November 15, 2019).

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