CPWR: Deaths rise at small construction companies, drop at larger firms

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Updated Nov 13, 2018

Yellow hard hat on dirt groundAccidental deaths are rising for workers at small construction firms while dropping for larger companies, a new report shows.

Between 2008 and 2016, the fatality rate for construction firms with fewer than 20 employees rose 57 percent, according to the study by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

In contrast, fatalities at firms with 20 or more employees dropped 30 percent.

The study also noted that small construction firms hire 37 percent of the construction workforce but accounted for 67 percent of the fatalities.

Here are some highlights from CPWR’s Quarterly Data Report, Fatal Injuries among Small Construction Establishments:

  • From 2003 to 2016, 5,155 fatalities were reported in establishments with fewer than 20 employees, accounting for more than half (56.6%) of fatalities with known establishment size.
  • The share of fatalities among establishments with one to 10 employees generally increased over time, from 44 percent in 2003 to 54 percent in 2016, the highest since 2003.
  • In 2016 alone, more than two-thirds (67.2%) of fatalities among wage-and-salary workers occurred in establishments with fewer than 20 employees.
  • Establishments with 100 or more employees accounted for 14 percent of fatalities, but employed nearly 30 percent of wage-and-salary workers in construction.
  • Fall to a lower level was the leading cause of fatalities, causing 8,583 deaths from 1992 to 2016, nearly twice as many as caused by struck-by, the second leading cause of fatalities during this period, at 4,828.

CPWR provides an online tool to help small construction contractors self-assess their safety management programs and identify ways to improve them. The free and anonymous Safety Climate Assessment Tool for Small Contractors (S-CAT SC) can be found on the CPWR website.