Upending long-held beliefs, a national trades group released a report this week finding that construction accidents are more common at the noon hour than any other time of day.
That was just one example of how certain pieces of conventional wisdom were turned on their head Tuesday by the Associated General Contractor of America’s “Preventing Fatalities in the Construction Industry” report. Other findings suggested that small companies are the most likely to have deaths on work sites and that — contrary to widely held perceptions — Hispanic workers are not more likely to die on the job than workers of other ethnicities.
The report, based on research conducted by the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech, noted that previous research had suggested work site deaths were most likely to occur between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on any given day. Drawing on data gathered by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study instead found that the most dangerous hours at construction sites are those between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Worst of all was the noon hour.
To help mitigate the dangers, the AGC recommended that contractors consider scheduling “tool box” talks and safety meetings for noon. The AGC also said company officials should make sure employees are aware that the risk of injury increases at certain times of day.
Wisconsin’s construction industry has made strides in recent years toward making work sites safer. Drawing on federal data, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s State Laboratory of Hygiene reported last year that injuries in Wisconsin’s construction industry occurred at a rate of 4.6 for every 100 workers in 2015.
That was higher than the rate for, say, health-care employees – which was 4.4 injuries for every 100 workers. But it was far down from what the rate for construction had been 10 years previously, when it had been slightly greater than 9 injuries for 100 workers.
Elsewhere, the AGC’s report found that companies with nine or fewer employees accounted for 47 percent of the industry’s fatalities in the study period, which ran from 2010 to 2012. The report also noted that although Hispanics made up 24 percent of the total construction workforce in those years, they accounted for only 20 percent of the work-zone deaths.
Not all of the report’s findings ran contrary to conventional wisdom. The AGC found, for instance, that falls were the leading cause of deaths in the industry — accounting for 33 percent of the fatalities recorded in the study period.
In Wisconsin, 610 of the 4,700 injuries and illnesses recorded in 2015 were caused by falls, according to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. The next most common causes of injury were overexertion (520 injuries) and contact with an object (350 injuries.)
The study also found that workers between the ages of 35 and 54 accounted for 50 percent of the work-site deaths in the study period. The older workers were, the more likely they were to die on the job; the highest fatality rate was found among 65-year-olds.
The AGC said the purpose of the report was to help construction officials and others find ways to make the industry safer.Follow @TDR_WLJDan