A double-edged sword: Construction fatalities accompany growth

In many respects, growth in the construction industry is viewed as a sign of economic growth and progress. Certainly, this is bound to inspire hope after a long recession. Construction projects are springing up in many corners of the country, which has allowed many construction workers to take their names off of the unemployment rolls.

This progress does have a dark side, however. Data recently released by the AFL-CIO indicates that the rate of construction-related fatalities is on the rise. In 2012, the rate sat at 9.9 per 100,000 workers, which represents a noticeable year-over-year increase. Just a year earlier, the rate was 9.1 per 100,000 workers.

According to a report from Business Insurance, this rise could be connected to a recent boom in the energy industry. For example, the construction fatality rate in North Dakota is 97.4 per 100,000 workers — a whopping 10 times the national rate. Companies are scrambling to meet demand for residential and commercial construction, so corners might be cut along the way.

Although the previous cited statistic was not related directly to Colorado, it points to problems that can impact any area that’s growing economically. In the haste to meet market demands and turn a profit, construction companies may be sending crews out that do not have the proper safety training to complete a job without experiencing preventable accidents.

This report harkens back to an earlier blog post discussing the need to go through specific training programs for construction workers. The dangers on job sites are unique when compared to other professions, so workers deserve to have the tools necessary to do their work safely.

Economic progress is no excuse to put construction workers in harm’s way. Employers should never forget their duty to their employees, no matter how many new contracts filter in.

Source: Business Insurance, “Construction growth brings increase in the number of worker fatalities,” Stephanie Goldberg, July 6, 2014

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