Construction Fatalities Hit 7-Year High
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported a total of 4,836 workplace fatalities in 2015, the highest total since 2008. Almost 20 percent of those (937) occurred in the private construction industry, which suffered a 4 percent increase in work fatalities over the previous year. Most of the increase occurred in the specialty trades, with the largest spike (27 percent increase) occurring in the foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters, and steamfitters all recorded their highest fatality total in years. Naturally, the growth in total fatalities is correlated to the growth in construction activity over the past several years (the overall incident rate did not increase), but the lack of progress in finding ways to keep workers safe remains a blemish on the industry that will impede efforts to attract and retain talented workers. Without a commitment from industry leaders and executives to reverse this outcome, the situation is unlikely to change.