The prevalence of roof and ladder falls in the construction industry is common knowledge. Anyone entering the industry knows that they are at much higher risk for serious injuries when doing roof work, ladder work and scaffold work.
It is important to understand the factors that increase the likelihood of serious construction falls. Although unsafe practices and negligence are obvious contributors, there are other issues that come into play. For example, does the number of employees in a construction company indicate the likelihood of a fall? Are some construction careers more likely to involve a high likelihood of falls?
Some interesting statistics
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CCRT) provides some surprising data on these issues.
In terms of construction company size, it looks like smaller companies have increased likelihood of accidents per worker. According to the data, companies with 1-10 employees are by far the most dangerous, taking up 54.7% of all fatal falls in the research window.
This is an unfortunate statistic, since smaller organizations are more likely to be carrying inadequate workers’ compensation coverage. Although the smallest companies seem to be the most dangerous for fall accidents, the largest companies are not the safest. The safest company size appears to be between 50 and 99 employees.
In terms of types of falls, the data shows that roof falls are the most dangerous, comprising 31% of all fatal falls. Ladder falls are a close second. When combining roof and ladder falls, they make up 54.6% of all construction fall fatalities.
Finally, there are a few construction roles that appear far more dangerous for fall accidents than the rest:
- Powerline installers: 28.5 deaths per 1,000 (full-time employees)
- Roofers: 52.2 accidents per 1,000 and 23.8 deaths per 1,000
- Ironworkers: 75.1 injuries per 1,000 and 23.8 deaths per 1,000
- Sheet metal workers: 69.2 injuries per 1,000 and 6.5 deaths per 1,000
Although, curiously, there is no number for accidents per 1,000 for power-line workers, the overall numbers are interesting.
For people seeking out a career in the construction industry, the best way to avoid a job with high-risk for falls is to avoid roofing, powerline and iron work; and work for a larger construction company (between 50 and 100 full-time employees).