Today's News / Safety in the Construction Industry / Occupational Safety

Who are the victims of falls?

March 10, 2014

rooferA new NIOSH-funded study on fatalities in the construction industry suggests roofers in residential construction are among those most likely to die in falls from roofs.

The study, "Fatal falls from roofs among U.S. construction workers," finds that "the odds of fatal falls from roofs were higher for roofing and residential construction than any other construction sector."

Other groups with higher rates of fatal falls from roofs included workers younger than 20 years or older than 44 years, racial minorities, Hispanics, and immigrant workers. Workers in southern regions also had a higher rate of fatal falls compared to the construction industry as a whole.

The authors emphasize the need for employer compliance with OSHA fall protection regulations and effective training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.

For more information about preventing fatal falls in construction, visit http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/index.html.

The study examined trends and patterns of fatal falls from roofs in the U.S. construction industry over an 18-year period (1992–2009), with detailed analysis for 2003–2009.

Methods

Two large national datasets were analyzed: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Current Population Survey.

Results

Roof fatalities accounted for one-third of fatal falls in construction in 1992–2009. A disproportionately high percentage (67%) of deaths from roof falls occurred in small construction establishments (1–10 employees). Roofers, ironworkers, workers employed with roofing contractors, or working at residential construction sites, had a higher risk of roof fatalities. A higher rate of roof fatalities was also found among younger (< 20 years) and older (> 44 years) workers, Hispanics, and immigrant workers.

Conclusion

Roof fatalities corresponded with economic cycles and differed among construction subgroups and worksites. Impact on Industry: Prevention strategies should target high-risk worker groups and small establishments.

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