Construction Accident Injury Statistics in the US: The Real Facts

construction injury statistics

According to the National Safety Council, one worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. Construction accident injuries made their list of the top five most dangerous industries to work in.

Some industries face potential injuries such as muscle fatigue or overextension. Construction workers may face workplace injuries that are far more serious, from lacerations to amputations.

We know construction is a dangerous gig. But what are the most common injuries and why are they occurring?

Read on for construction injury statistics that reveal exactly what construction workers could face on the job.

Construction Injury Statistics: Here Are The Real Facts

According to the National Safety Council, one worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. Construction made their list of the top five most dangerous industries to work in.

Some industries face potential injuries such as muscle fatigue or overextension. Construction workers may face workplace injuries that are far more serious, from lacerations to amputations.

We know construction is a dangerous gig. But what are the most common injuries and why are they occurring?

Read on for construction accident injury statistics that reveal exactly what construction workers could face on the job.

Construction Injuries: Statistics and Causes

The Bureau of Labor released statistics in 2018 revealing that serious workplace injuries in all industries were decreasing over the years. However, these statistics weren’t entirely positive for construction workers.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of construction-related workplace injuries that required days away from work went down from 79.8 thousand to 77.5 thousand.

At the same time, the number of total construction-related workplace injuries went up. In 2017, a total of 198.1 thousand injuries were reported on construction sites. In 2018, that total rose to 199.1 thousand injuries.

Note that if you are injured on the job, you should seek medical attention from a workers’ comp doctor. They will determine if you can continue to work or if you should take time away from work to recover. Continuing to work with a serious injury will only serve to make matters worse.

Now, let’s turn to the data to break down the most common injuries in construction. The following statistics come from the Bureau of Labor’s in-depth analysis of 2018 workplace injuries.

It is important to note that these numbers reflect only those injuries that resulted in days away from work and not the total number of reported injuries.

Sprains and Strains

The most common injuries in construction are sprains and strains. In 2018, there were over 21,230 injuries of this variety.

Sprains are injuries to the fibrous tissue that connect our bones. This tissue is called a ligament. Strains are similar injuries, although they specifically refer to torn ligaments.

These injuries occur when we twist or turn a body part in a bad way or overexert ourselves when lifting our moving an object. In construction, workers often suffer from sprains or strains in their backs or shoulders.

Because sprains and strains aren’t visible to the naked eye, some employers may argue that their workers are “faking” these injuries in order to receive workers’ comp. As a result, workers may feel pressured to leave these incidents unreported.

It is an employer’s responsibility to provide resources and training on proper ergonomic practices. If these resources are not available, this may be considered negligence.

Cuts and Lacerations

Cuts and lacerations accounted for over 10,180 construction injuries in 2018. Cuts and lacerations occur when employees have not been properly trained to handle equipment or when the work environment is overcrowded or disorderly.

If you have a serious cut or laceration, you should seek immediate medical care as open wounds are at risk of infection. If the wound requires stitches, you may only have a 6-24 hour window to receive them. After a certain length of time, your doctor may refuse to administer stitches because the risk of infection is too high.

Fractures

Fractures are the third most common injury construction workers face. In 2018, over 9,920 fractures were reported. This includes both fractures and stress fractures.

Fractures occur when the bone is hit by something hard enough to crack it. Stress fractures occur over time when there is enough repeated pressure on a bone to cause a thin crack. For either to heal, you need to refrain from putting more pressure on the fractured bone.

Bruises

Construction workers reported over 3,280 serious bruises in 2018. While a bruise may not seem like a major injury, it may indicate something more serious under the skin.

Bruises can occur when equipment is dropped on an employee. They can also result from a fall.

Bruises to the arms or legs will usually heal on their own. Bruises on the torso or head should be taken more seriously. If you were struck in either of these areas, visit a doctor as soon as possible. You may have internal bleeding, organ damage, or head trauma in addition to the bruising.

Puncture Wounds

Puncture wounds accounted for over 2,620 construction injuries in 2018. Depending on what caused the puncture, this type of injury can present serious problems down the road.

If you were punctured by glass or wood, make sure to keep the wound clean to avoid infection. If you were punctured by metal, you should seek professional medical treatment immediately.

Rusty metal provides a home for the bacteria that causes tetanus. Tetanus affects the brain and nervous system, leading to muscle stiffness and immobility. In severe cases, tetanus can be lethal.

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns are also known as heat burns. In 2018, construction workers reported over 950 thermal burns.

Construction workers who work near or with active pipes are at risk of receiving thermal burns. Pipes can burst or crack, releasing a piping hot steam that scalds the skin. Thermal burns also occur when workers are using welding equipment.

Amputations

Construction workers who need amputations experience a major life change. Most construction work is inaccessible to amputees, meaning that amputees must either find a new line of work or file for disability. In 2018, 620 construction workers underwent an amputation.

OSHA takes amputations very seriously. For that reason, there are specific rules and regulations set in place by OSHA that all construction sites are expected to adhere to. If you believe that you and your coworkers are at risk of amputation due to negligence or improper equipment use, you should request an OSHA inspection.

Chemical Burns

While chemical burns account for less than 500 of the reported workplace injuries on construction sites in 2018, they must be taken seriously. Chemical burns occur when the skin or eyes come into contact with a damaging chemical substance. Chemicals with strong acids are often the culprit.

Construction sites use chemicals for everything from cleaning rusty equipment to laying cement or asphalt. When exposed to certain chemicals, you are at risk of severe burns that require skin grafting, respiratory issues, and even blindness.

The Fatal Four

In 2018, there were 1,008 worker fatalities on construction sites. OSHA identified the top four causes of these fatalities, referring to them as the “Fatal Four.”

It’s important to understand the leading causes of construction worker deaths because it reveals the biggest threats to your safety. Even if these accidents don’t always result in death, they can cause serious harm. Read on to find out more.

Falls

338 of the 2018 construction work fatalities resulted from falling. This accounts for 33.5% of construction worker fatalities.

Falls can occur when employees are not given the proper fall arrest equipment or the site is not equipped with perimeter protection. They can also occur if floor openings are not labeled properly. Employers must train their workers to use ladders and cranes in a safe manner and provide proper safety equipment.

Struck by Object

112 construction workers died after they were struck by an object on the construction site. This accounts for 11.1% of construction worker fatalities.

Struck-by accidents happen when construction workers are positioned between a moving object, like heavy machinery or equipment being lifted with a crane, and a fixed object. They also occur when construction workers are not given the proper visibility gear, making it harder for other workers to notice their movement and positioning.

Electrocution

Electrocution caused 86 construction worker fatalities or 8.5% of the total fatalities. Whether you’re working on a site with active electrical wiring or using electrical equipment, you are at risk of electrocution.

You should always identify both above and underground electrical wiring before beginning work. Maintain a reasonable distance between yourself and power lines.

Do not use any portable equipment that is not double insulated and grounded. All construction sites should rely on ground-fault circuit interrupters when operating electrical equipment.

Caught-In/Between

55 construction died when caught in or between an enclosed space. This accounts for 5.5% of construction worker fatalities.

While caught-in/between accidents may sound similar to struck-by accidents, they refer to a much more specific scenario. Caught-in/between accidents refer to accidents that occur in trenches or excavation zones.

Any trench or excavation zone that is 5 feet or deeper should have a protective system in place before any workers enter them. If you do not feel that the site is protected, do not enter. If your boss or site manager tells you that you have to, contact OSHA for an inspection and legal protection.

I Was Injured On-Site, Now What?

If you were injured while working your construction job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. We’ll go over some of the basics regarding what workers’ comp is and how to file for it.

What Is Workers' Compensation?

Workers’ comp is monetary compensation workers are owed after receiving an injury while on the job. It is covered by the employer’s insurance. It is designed to cover any out-of-pocket medical bills and lost income a worker accrues as a result of their workplace injury.

Lost income refers to the money you would have made from work had you been able to work. In other words, workers’ comp can ensure that you have financial stability while you recover from your injury.

If you have suffered PTSD from your workplace injury, you may be entitled to financial coverage for any resulting therapy or medications. In this case, you would need the assistance of a workers’ comp psychologist.

How Do I File a Workers' Comp Claim?

The first thing you must do is inform your supervisor of your injury. Report the injury, including how, when, and what happened, in writing.

Next, visit a workers’ comp doctor. Not only will they treat your injuries but they will evaluate the extent of the damage in relation to the workers’ compensation you are owed. Make sure that you keep records of all appointments, doctors’ notes, and associated bills.

At this point, you should hire a workers’ comp attorney. The insurance company’s goal is to reach the lowest possible settlement and without an attorney, you may walk into one of their many traps.

Finally, you must file a formal claim with the insurance company. Your workers’ comp doctor and workers’ comp attorney will walk you through the process of what you must include.

Is There a Time Limit?

The statute of limitations for filing a workers’ comp claim varies from state to state. For example in the state of New York, the statute of limitations for workers’ comp claims is two years from the date of the injury or from the date of last compensation.

Determining the exact date of injury isn’t always easy. While injuries like burns and cuts present themselves right away, injuries like stress fractures accrue over time. Sometimes what starts out as a seemingly small injury leads to a bigger, more problematic injury over time.

It is in your best interest to start the workers’ compensation claims process the moment you notice an injury or suspect that an injury is going to get worse.

Find a Workers' Comp Doctor Near You

Construction injury statistics shed light on the dangers of construction work. We hope we can also shed light on the importance of visiting a workers’ comp doctor after a workplace injury occurs. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the process.

Call 1-800-897-8440 to find an experienced workers’ comp doctor near you. Don’t delay, call now, and get on your way to a speedy recovery.

 

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