Construction fatalities decline over last ten years

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released new data and analysis that shows a 47 percent decline in the national construction fatality rate and a 38 percent decline in safety incidents from 1998 to 2008.

The study analyzed data that began with former president Bill Clinton’s “collaborative safety management” approach to finding and correcting safety problems within construction companies. Instead of sending government officials to each company to ensure safety regulations were followed, the collaborative approach offered incentives for workers within companies for reporting and fixing safety hazards before a worker was injured. The program also gave strong penalties to companies that ignored safety issues until a worker was hurt.

Since the program began in 1998, the construction fatality rate per billion dollars invested in construction fell from 1.7 to 0.9, a 47 percent decline. The construction fatality rate per 100,000 workers fell 25 percent from 12.9 in the year 2000 to 9.6 in 2008. The amount of OSHA cases per 100 workers fell from 8.8 in 1998 to 5.4 in 2008.

Chuck Penn, the executive director of AGC’s Shreveport, Louisiana, chapter, says that although the construction workforce has grown in size, the number of construction fatalities has declined 17 percent from 1,171 fatalities in 1998 to 969 fatalities in 2008.

Penn announced that the Shreveport chapter and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are teaming up to provide local contractors with safety resources to prevent falls, electrocutions, getting caught in-between and struck by hazards.

Penn believes that the released data proves that Clinton’s collaborative approach to safety will continue to work on construction sites and aims to keep Washington from changing the current program to a more police-like safety program. He says that changing a program that past data proves effective would be “unwise and unsafe.”

For more construction safety-related data, visit the AGC website.