Rock to Road

Features Columns Education
Commentary: Construction accidents and causes

Construction accidents and causes


February 1, 2010
By Andy Bateman


Topics

Along with the construction season comes, unfortunately, the risk of construction related injuries and fatalities. But under what circumstances do construction accidents most often occur? Some years ago, 3,496 construction fatalities were investigated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and many of its conclusions appear to be just as relevant today.

Along with the construction season comes, unfortunately, the risk of
construction related injuries and fatalities. But under what
circumstances do construction accidents most often occur? Some years
ago, 3,496 construction fatalities were investigated by the U.S.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration and many of its
conclusions appear to be just as relevant today.

“Falls from elevation represented the largest cause, 33 percent, of all
construction fatalities, while “struck by”, “caught in/between” and
electrical shock represented 22 percent, 18 percent and 17 percent of
accident causes respectively. There was no significant difference in
the number of fatalities for the various days of the normal five day
work week.

About 79 percent of trenching fatalities occurred in trenches less than
5m deep, while 65 percent of the fatalities due to electrical shock
involved contact with overhead power lines.

The relative contribution of the four major causes (falls from
elevation, struck by, caught in/between, electrical shock) to the total
number of fatalities did not vary significantly over the five-year
study period, i.e., the same types of fatal accidents were continuing
to occur with the same relative frequency.

Heavy construction other than building construction accounted for 34
percent of total construction fatalities. Caught in/between fatalities
occurred most frequently in heavy construction, while about 75 percent
of the fatalities due to being struck by a machine involved heavy
construction equipment such as trucks, cranes, graders, or scrapers.
Many of the fatalities caused by being struck by material involved poor
rigging of loads being moved or poor storage of materials.”