Understanding why, when and how construction fatalities occur and helping construction firms implement the most effective safety measures in response are vital to reducing work-related accidents and deaths. To that end, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) conducted a study, Preventing Fatalities in the Construction Industry, during a three-year period in association with the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech University. Researchers studied every construction fatality during that time span.
Best time for safety talks?
The study dispels the belief that most construction-related fatalities occur in the morning. In fact, noon is the deadliest hour, according to the association, which now recommends that companies hold safety talks and stretching sessions when workers return from 11 a.m. to noon lunch breaks, which are common on most jobsites.
Other findings from the study include:
- Work to keep seasoned employees vigilant because age and experience don’t correspond to lower risk.
- Extend a strong safety culture to all sub-contractors in addition to permanent employees as the study notes that smaller firms are at increased risk of construction fatalities.
- Track all safety incidents and near misses.
Additional takeaways from the research reinforce existing safety practices and many of AGC’s longstanding safety programs. For example, falls from ladders and other structures account for one-third of U.S. construction fatalities. This confirms a focus by both the association and the industry to offer training and safety stand-downs that address fall protection.
The research also revealed that Hispanic workers are not disproportionately the victims of accidents, as some believe. As a group, Hispanics account for 24 percent of the national construction workforce and 25 percent of all construction fatalities. This discovery is important because it indicates that construction firms need to craft safety programs targeting the entire work force, rather than specific segments.