The number of construction fatalities declined by nearly 10% between 2009 and 2010 and by almost 40% during the past five years, according to a recent analysis of new federal data prepared by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials pointed to an industry-wide commitment to improving workplace safety as a key reason for the safety improvements.
“This industry has made safety a top priority in good times and bad, and the new data shows those efforts are helping save lives,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But even one fatality is too many, which is why this data also serves as a somber reminder of the work that still needs to be done.”
Sandherr noted that the number of construction fatalities in 2010 was 751, down from 834 in 2009 and 1,239 in 2006. He added that the number of construction fatalities was declining faster than the total amount of money invested in construction projects during the past five years. While construction spending declined by 31% between 2006 and 2010, the number of fatalities declined by nearly 40%.
The construction industry has taken a range of steps to improve workplace safety during the past two decades, Sandherr said. He said that safety planning is now considered an essential part of all pre-construction plans. Construction workers also undergo rigorous and ongoing safety training both at construction sites and within company training rooms. Many firms also now regularly participate in association-led safety stand-downs, stopping all construction activity during a particular day to hold intense safety training and drills.
The association has also worked to establish a host of safety programs and materials from which construction firms are benefiting. Sandherr cited the work the association has done to train construction workers in fall protection measures in helping cut fall fatalities from 447 in 2007 to 260 in 2010, a 42% decline.
He added that the association offers a wide range of safety training programs and tools to construction firms across the industry. Sandherr noted that the association remained committed to working with federal, state and local officials to continue improving workplace safety. “Nobody has a monopoly on improving workplace safety.”