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Analysis of Construction 
Fatalities - The OSHA 
DataBase 1985-1989 



U.S. Department of Labor 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration 


November 1990 






Report Documentation Page 


Report Date Report Type 

00111990 N/A 

Dates Covered (from... to) 

Title and Subtitle 

Contract Number 

Analysis ol Construction Fatuities - The OSHA Data 

Base 1985-1989 

Grant Number 


Program Element Number 

Author(s) 

Project Number 


Task Number 


Work Unit Number 

Performing Organization Name(s) and Address(es) 

U.S. Dept of Labor Occupational Safety & Health 
Administration 200 Constitution Avenue Washington, 

DC 20210 

Performing Organization Report Number 

OSHA 1990 

Sponsoring/Monitoring Agency Name(s) and 

Sponsor/Monitor’s Acronym(s) 

Address(es) 

Sponsor/Monitor’s Report Number(s) 

Distribution/Availability Statement 

Approved for public release, distribution unlimited 

Supplementary Notes 

Abstract 

This report presents the results of an analysis of the 3,496 construction fatalities investigated by the 
Occupational Safety and Health Administration and included in the Agency’s Integrated Management 
Informat ion System data base for the period 1985 to 1989. The analysis considered the variation of the 
number of fatalities over the 5-year period and the influence of factors such as geography and 
characteristics of th e workforce, e.g., industry group, age, and union affiliation on these fatality statistics. 
The analysis also examined the causes of fatalities and the factors influencin g accidents. Statistics from 
the OSHA data base are compared with construction fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 
Nati onal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Safety Council. 

Subject Terms 

Report Classification 

unclassified 

Classification of this page 

unclassified 

Classification of Abstract 

unclassified 

Limitation of Abstract 

UU 









Analysis of Construction 
Fatalities - The OSHA 
DataBase 1985-1989 



U.S. Department of Labor 
Elizabeth Dole, Secretary 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration 
Gerard F. Scanned, Assistant Secretary 

Office of Constmction and Engineering 
Charles Culver 
Glenn Florczak 
Richard Castell, Jr. 

Constance Connolly 
Gary Pelton 

November 1990 





ABSTRACT 


This report presents the results of an analysis of the 3,496 construction fatalities 
investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and included in the 
Agency's Integrated Management Informat ion System data base for the period 1985 to 
1989. The analysis considered the var iation of the number of fatalities over the 5-year 
period and the influence of factors such as geography and characteristics of th e 
workforce, e.g., industry group, age, and union affiliation on these fatality statistics . 
The analysis also examined the causes of fatalities and the factors influencin g 
accidents. Statistics from the OSHA data base are compared with construction fatality 
data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Nati onal Institute for Occupational Safety 
and Health and the National Safety Council. 

Keywords: accidents; construction; construction safety; fatalities. 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 


Construction is one of the most hazardous industries. Each year a substantial 
number of construction workers lose their lives; many others are injured. Estimates 
of the number of fatalities range from several hundred to over 2,000 per year. More 
important than the total number of construction fatalities is information on the 
causes of these accidents. It is this type of information that can be used to develop 
programs to improve construction safety through the reduction of accidents. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been 
investigating workplace accidents since its inception in 1970. This report includes 
documentation of the methodology used by OSHA to collect data on construction 
accidents. The results of an analysis of 3,496 construction fatalities investigated by 
OSHA and states operating OSHA approved state plans from 1985 to 1989 are 
presented. The analysis considered the influence of factors such as geography and 
characteristics of the workforce including construction activity, worker age and 
union affiliation on these fatalities. The analysis also examined the causes of 
fatalities and the factors influencing accidents. 

The following conclusions are based on the analysis of the 3,496 
construction fatalities investigated by OSHA for the period 1985 to 1989: 

1. The number of construction fatalities investigated by OSHA each year 
fluctuates around 700 and there is no general trend with time of this number or 
the number of fatalities reported to the Agency. 

2. In some cases, there were large changes in the number of fatalities from year to 
year in the various OSHA regions. The trend in the number of fatalities in 
Region VI was continually downward, decreasing by 47 percent from 1985 to 
1989. There was no apparent trend in the number of fatalities over time for the 
other OSHA regions. 


V 



3. The general trend in fatality rates (number of fatalities per 100,000 workers) 
for the fatalities investigated by OSHA is downward. Region II has the lowest 
average fatality rate, Region VI has the highest for the period 1985 to 1989. 

4. There is no significant difference in the number of fatalities for the various 
days of the normal 5-day work week. The percentage of fatalities occurring on 
the weekend reflect the reduced hours worked during this period. 

5. Special trade contractors (SIC 17) account for 53 percent of the total 
construction fatalities; heavy construction other than building construction (SIC 
16) accounts for 34 percent and building construction (SIC 15) 13 percent. 

6. The percentage of fatalities in various age groups is within 2 percent of the 
percentage of the workforce population in that age group; older workers or 
younger workers do not experience a disproportionate share of construction 
fatalities. 

7. The distribution of fatalities among union and nonuni on worksites is similar to the 
composition of the construction workforce in terms of numbers of union an d 
nonunion workers. 

8. The percentage of fatalities for various size construction firms, as defined by 
the number of employees employed by the firm, is similar to the representation 
of the construction workforce in terms of firm size. 

9. Falls from elevation represent the largest cause, 33 percent, of all construction 
fatalities. Struck by, caught in/between and electrical shock represent 22 
percent, 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively. 

10. The relationship among the causes of fatalities for the State-Plan states is similar 
to that for the Federal OSHA states. 


VI 



11. The relative contribution of the, four major causes (falls from elevation, 
struck by, caught in/between, electrical shock) to the total number of fatalities 
does not vary significantly over the 5-year period, i.e., the same types of fatal 
accidents are continuing to occur with the same relative frequency. 

12. The percent of fatalities associated with each of the four major causes of 
fatalities varies among the OSHA regions. 

13. The causes of fatalities are related to construction activity. Fatalities due to 
falls from elevation, for example, occur most frequently among special trade 
contractors, whereas, caught in/between fatalities occur most frequently in 
heavy construction. 

14. There does not appear to be a correlation between the age of the worker and 
the causes of fatalities. The distribution of each of the major causes of 
fatalities among various age groups is similar to the age distribution of the 
construction workforce. 

15. Roofs and scaffolds are the major locations of fatalities due to falls fro m 
elevation. 

16. Approximately 40 percent of the fatalities due to falls from elevation involved 
falls from elevations of greater than 30 feet. Twenty-five percent of the 
fatalities occurred from falls from elevation between 11 and 20 feet and a 
similar percentage from 21 to 30 thirty feet. 

17. Approximately 75 percent of the fatalities due to being struck by a machine 
involve heavy construction equipment such as trucks, cranes, graders, or 
scrapers. Many of the fatalities caused by being struck by material involve 
poor rigging of loads being moved or poor storage of materials. 

18. Seventy-nine percent of trenching fatalities occur in trenches less than 15 feet 
deep. Thirty-eight percent of the fatalities occur in trenches less than 10 feet 
deep. 


vii 



19. Seventy-four percent of the fatalities due to electric shock involve electrical 
sources with voltages exceeding 480 volts. 

20. Sixty-five percent of the fatalities due to electrical shock involve contact with 
overhead power lines. 

21. Fifty-three percent of the fatalities associated with contacting overhead power 
lines involve construction equipment. 

22. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration (OSHA) data on the number of fatalities occurring each year 
are comparable. These data indicate that for 1988, approximately 800 
construction workers lost their lives due to work-related accidents. The 
number of fatalities reported by the National Safety Council is over 250 
percent higher at 2,200 construction fatalities for 1988. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 


Chapter Page 

ABSTRACT iii 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY iv 

1. INTRODUCTION I 

2. THE OSHA DATA BASE 3 

2.1 Background 3 

2.2 Eatality Investigations 4 

2.3 Integrated Management Information System 6 

3. ANAEYSIS OE THE DATA 13 

3.1 Introduction 13 

3.2 Analysis Procedure 13 

3.3 Distribution of Eatalities 15 

3.4 Causes of Eatalities 19 

4. COMPARISON OE DATA BASES 51 

4.1 Introduction 51 

4.2 Data and Data Collection Procedures 51 

4.3 Results 52 

5. CONCEUSIONS 59 

6. ACKNOWEEDGMENTS 63 

7. REEERENCES 65 

APPENDIX A - OCCUPATIONAE SAEETY AND 

HEAETH ADMINISTRATION DATA 
COEEECTION EORMS 67 

APPENDIX B - BUREAU OE EABOR STATISTICS 

METHODOEOGY 73 

APPENDIX C - NATIONAE SAEETY COUNCIE 

METHODOEOGY 75 

APPENDIX D - NATIONAE INSTITUTE EOR 

OCCUPATIONAE SAEETY AND HEAETH 
METHODOEOGY 77 


IX 



CHAPTER 1 


INTRODUCTION 

Construction is one of the most hazardous industries. Each year a substantial 
number of construction workers lose their lives; countless others are injured. 
Estimates of the number of fatalities range from several hundred to over 2,000 per 
year. The number of fatalities is one means to compare hazards in construction with 
those in other occupations. Changes in these data, over time, also serve as a 
measure of trends in construction safety. More important than the total number of 
construction fatalities is information on the causes of these accidents. It is this type 
of information that can be used to develop programs to improve construction safety 
through the reduction of accidents. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been 
investigating workplace accidents since its inception in 1970. Data from these 
investigations conducted by Eederal OSHA and states operating OSHA approved 
state plans and related information such as statistics collected by the Bureau of 
Labor Statistics have been used in establishing OSHA’s program. Regulatory 
analysis conducted prior to establishing new or modifying existing regulations and 
special emphasis programs targeting high hazard activities or industries are two 
examples. In the past, these analyses of construction fatality data have focused on a 
particular aspect of construction such as fall protection, vehicle safety or steel 
erection. These same data can also be used to look at trends or changes over time 
and also in detail at the important factors that influence accidents. The purpose of 
this report is to provide such analysis. 

This report includes documentation of the methodology used by OSHA to 
collect data on construction accidents. Results of the analysis of these construction 
fatality accident data for the period 1985 to 1989 are presented. Other 
methodologies used to collect accident data are also discussed and results obtained 
from these data are compared with those from the OSHA data. The information in 
this report can be used for a number of purposes. These include: (1) better targeting 
of construction safety programs, e.g., regional or geographically focused efforts, 
emphasis 


1 



on hazardous trades, etc., (2) improved training and regulations directed toward the 
causes of accidents and (3) improved accident data collection procedures to better 
identify the underlying causes of accidents. 

Care should be used in interpreting the results presented in this report, 
particularly in establishing cause-effect relationships. Factors other than workplace 
safety and health conditions may affect the observed trends or the influence of 
various parameters. 


2 



CHAPTER 2 


THE OSHA DATA BASE 


2.1 Background 

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (PL 91-596) requires 
that fatalities be reported to OSHA within 48 hours of the occurrence of a fatality or 
catastrophe (five or more people hospitalized) caused by a work-related accident. 
This reporting requirement extends to all firms, not just those with 11 or more 
employees that are subject to normal programmed OSHA inspections. Fatalities 
involving employees of Federal agencies are also reported to OSHA. The employer 
can report the occurrence of an accident by telephone or by direct contact. OSHA 
also learns of the occurrence of accidents through the news media, during the course 
of inspections and referrals from state, municipal and other Federal agencies. 

The number of fatalities reported to OSHA varies from year to year. Not all 
fatalities are investigated. The fatalities reported and investigated over the 5-year 
period from 1985 to 1989 were: 


Fatalities Fatalities 

Reported Investigated 


1985 

1,092 

729 

1986 

836 

660 

1987 

1,136 

724 

1988 

909 

720 

1989 

819 

663 


Fatalities involving highway vehicles, homicides and non work-related 
accidents are generally not investigated by OSHA. State-Plan states investigate 
fatalities and catastrophes occurring in their jurisdiction. 

The purpose of this chapter is to document the data collection procedure and 
describe the data collected by OSHA in the investigation of work-related fatalities. 


3 




2.2 Fatality Investigations 

This section describes the data collection procedure for an OSHA fatality 
investigation. The procedure OSHA follows in conducting these investigations is 
described in the Field Operations Manual (1)*. The data collection forms used are 
included in Appendix A. 

The employers report of a fatality/catastrophe is normally received by a 
Compliance Officer and the information is recorded on an OSHA 36(F) form in 
Federal States and an OSHA 36(S) form in State-Plan states. The primary purpose 
of these forms is to gather enough information to allow an OSHA supervisor to 
determine whether or not an investigation will be conducted. Information such as: 
establishment name, site address, site contact, date and time of occurrence, site 
telephone number, type of event, and preliminary description of the occurrence is 
recorded on the form. The data on the OSHA 36(F) or 36(S) form is entered in the 
OSHA Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) (2) directly by the area 
office, district office or state office which has jurisdiction over the 
fatality/catastrophe investigation. If it is determined that an investigation will be 
conducted, additional forms containing information pertinent to the investigation will 
be filled out by the Compliance Officer assigned to do the investigation. Two of 
these forms are: 

1. The OSHA-1, Inspection Report - this form is a basic information form 
which provides a specific case number for each investigation. 

2. The OSHA-170, Investigation Summary - this form is filled out by the 
assigned Compliance Officer upon completion of the investigation and 
gives specific data relating to the fatality/catastrophe. 

The OSHA-1 form is normally the first form filled out by the 
Compliance Officer upon contact with the employer. The exception to this 


* Numerals in parenthesis refer to references in Chapter 7. 


4 



is when a fatality/catastrophe occurs and an OSHA 36(F) or 36(S) form is 
the first form filled out. The OSHA-1 has two primary purposes: 

1. To assign a specific case file number to the investigation which is used 
for tracking purposes for all information relating to the case. 

2. To collect basic data such as: employer name, employer’s mailing 
address if different from the site address, union or nonunion affiliation, 
recordkeeping information, type of inspection, and other related case 
files. 

Data from the OSHA-1 are entered into the microcomputer data base of the 
Federal or state office which conducts the inspection and is also transmitted 
electronically to the host data base where current and historical information on 
enforcement activity for all offices is stored on a mainframe computer. 

The OSHA-170 form is filled out by the Compliance Officer upon completion of the 
fatality/catastrophe investigation. The purpose of the form is to record a summary 
of all events relating to the fatality/catastrophe. The form is divided into three parts: 

1. Part 1 (blocks 1-4) — identifies the OSHA office and region involved, 
summary number, related inspections and total number of related 
inspections. 

2. Part 2 (blocks 5-19) — provides information concerning the accident 
such as the deceased name, sex, age, source of injury, and event type. 

3. Part 3 (block 20) — a brief abstract or summary of what happened. 

The information on the sample OSHA-170 form in Appendix A which 
was used in this study includes: 


5 



1. Block 13 - a listing of 14 general causes of the fatality (accident) or 
event type codes. 

2. Block 20 - the abstract which contains information such as: depth of 
trench, height of fall, voltage, type of equipment associated with the 
accident and the specific work being performed. 

The OSHA-170 forms are collected by the OSHA area offices, district offices 
and state offices and sent to the OSHA’s Office of Management Data Systems in 
Washington, D.C. where the data contained on them is entered in the IMIS system. 
There is limited data editing at the time the data are entered into the system. These 
data are checked for consistency and completeness after entering them in the 
computer. 

2.3 Integrated Management Information System 

The OSHA IMIS system came online in April 1984. At that time, the 
area and district offices were supplied with microcomputers in order to input 
information directly into the OSHA data base. The area offices, district offices and 
state offices can retrieve information which they input and maintain in their own 
computer and also special programmed reports. 

The IMIS data base currently includes over 1.7 million inspection records. 
The total currently includes approximately 35,000 OSHA-170 records covering 
57,000 accident victims. Note that one OSHA-170 form for an accident may 
include multiple injuries or fatalities. The fatality records include most fatal and 
catastrophic accidents investigated by OSHA in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, the 
Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Accidents that occur in 29 states and 
the District of Columbia are investigated by Federal OSHA. Investigation of all 
other accidents is the responsibility of the Occupational Safety and Health 
departments of each of the 23 State-Plan states. Not all fatal accidents are 
investigated by OSHA. OSHA investigates primarily those fatalities that appear to 
be related to workplace safety and health. Jobsite fatalities resulting from personal 
illness or some other nonsafety-related cause are not usually subject to routine 
investigation. State-Plan states may define catastrophic accidents differently for 
their investigations. All such investigations are 


6 



supposed to be included in the IMIS data base, though it is possible that some are 
inadvertently excluded. Federal OSHA and the states also investigate any accident 
that receives major publicity from the media. 

Table 2.3.1 summarizes the participation of the State-Plan states in the IMIS 
data base. In Connecticut and New York, the state safety and health programs 
cover only the public sector, while Federal OSHA investigates accidents involving 
private sector employees. In all other State-Plan states. Federal OSHA investigates 
an accident only in specific jurisdictional and hazard areas where Federal authority 
is maintained (military bases, state standard not yet adopted, etc.) The number of 
construction workers in each state for the period 1985 to 1989 is given in Table 
2.3.2. The values in Table 2.3.2. obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
represent the average number of workers employed in construction for that year; 
they do not reflect the number of hours actually worked. Using this information 
together with that in Table 2.3.1, the coverage of the construction workforce 
represented by the IMIS data base is shown in Figure 2.3.1. In computing this 
coverage, California was considered part of the system for calendar year 1988. For 
that year, Califonia was a Federal OSHA state and fatality data were included in 
IMIS. For calendar years 1987 and 1989, both the state and Federal governments 
were involved for varying periods of time and fatality data were not provided to 
IMIS for the full year. Califonia data were not included, therefore, in Figure 2.3.1 
for 1987 and 1989 as well as 1985 and 1986. 

Each accident record in the IMIS data base is identified by a unique activity 
number. Each record contains information such as the name and address of the 
company affected, its Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC) and states 
whether or not the job-site was union or nonunion. Using this activity number, the 
accident record can be traced back to the OSHA case file which contains all the 
information related to the event. Each record also indicates the date and nature of 
the accident and lists all violations for which the company received citations and any 
penalties assessed. In addition, most accident reports contain summaries, describing 
what the worker was doing at the time of the accident, the accident itself and the 
injuries sustained. The abstract also often contains the cause of an accident or 
suggests safety measures that could potentially prevent the 


7 



occurrence of similar accidents. A sample IMIS output record of an accident 
inspection involving a fatality is shown in Table A-1 in Appendix A. 


8 



TABLE 2.3.1 


SUMMARY OF STATE-PLAN STATES 
PARTICIPATION IN THE IMIS FATALITY DATA BASE 

_Dates of Participation 


Alaska 

Since January 1, 1984 

Arizona 

Since January 1, 1984 

Connecticut 

Since January 1, 1984 (public sector employees) 

California 

Participation from July 1, 1990 

Hawaii 

Since January 1, 1984 

Indiana 

Since January 1, 1984 

Iowa 

Since January 1, 1984 

Kentucky 

Since January 1, 1984 

Maryland 

Since January 1, 1984 

Michigan 

Since October 1989 

Minnesota 

Since January 1, 1984 

Nevada 

Since January 1, 1984 

New Mexico 

Since January 1, 1984 

New York 

Since January 1, 1984 (public sector employees) 

North Carolina 

Since January 1, 1984 

Oregon 

Since January 1, 1984. Did not participate from 
January 1988 to January 1989. 

South Carolina 

Since March 1985 

Tennessee 

Since April 1984 

Utah 

Since January 1, 1984 

Vermont 

Since January 1, 1984 

Virginia 

Since January 1, 1984 

Washington 

Began participation in June 1990 

Wyoming 

Since January 1, 1984 

Puerto Rico 

Since January 1, 1984 


9 























































TABLE 2.3.2 


CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY WORKFORCE 

Number of Construction Workers 
_(Thousands)_ 


STATE 

1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Alabama 

71.4 

74.9 

75.1 

78.0 

75.9 

Alaska 

18.6 

13.4 

10.1 

9.0 

9.8 

Arizona 

112.1 

113.1 

103.2 

93.7 

85.9 

Arkansas 

35.3 

36.2 

34.1 

33.3 

32.5 

California 

496.2 

531.0 

574.6 

603.3 

643.6 

Colorado 

86.3 

77.6 

67.3 

60.4 

58.5 

Connecticut 

65.6 

77.3 

78.0 

81.3 

76.3 

Delaware 

17.6 

18.9 

20.2 

21.7 

20.4 

Florida 

334.3 

339.5 

341.5 

346.3 

341.1 

Georgia 

143.8 

151.9 

152.2 

149.8 

146.5 

Hawaii 

17.2 

18.6 

21.2 

23.4 

29.2 

Idaho 

15.1 

14.6 

13.6 

14.2 

16.0 

Illinois 

171.6 

181.3 

196.2 

204.7 

209.5 

Indiana 

87.0 

92.9 

99.0 

107.3 

115.0 

Iowa 

36.6 

35.2 

35.6 

38.0 

40.5 

Kansas 

42.3 

43.9 

45.4 

41.6 

40.5 

Kentucky 

54.0 

56.3 

61.6 

63.0 

66.1 

Louisiana 

105.2 

90.5 

81.3 

81.3 

82.3 

Maine 

23.4 

26.9 

31.5 

33.3 

33.1 

Maryland 

128.8 

139.5 

152.3 

161.1 

162.3 

Massachusetts 

109.4 

123.2 

137.7 

142.1 

127.7 

Michigan 

107.8 

115.2 

123.3 

132.2 

137.8 

Minnesota 

71.3 

75.0 

80.1 

77.8 

79.3 

Mississippi 

36.7 

35.2 

33.9 

35.2 

36.4 

Missouri 

92.9 

98.1 

98.7 

97.4 

97.5 


10 


































































































































































TABLE 2.3.2 (Continued) 


Montana 

Nebraska 

Nevada 

New Hampshire 
New Jersey 
New Mexico 
New York 
North Carolina 
North Dakota 
Ohio 

Oklahoma 

Oregon 

Pennsylvania 

Puerto Rico 

Rhode Island 

South Carolina 

South Dakota 

Tennessee 

Texas 

Utah 

Vermont 

Virginia 

Virgin Islands 

Washington 

Washington, DC 

West Virginia 

Wisconsin 

Wyoming 

TOTAL 


11.5 

10.2 

00 

bo 

9.0 

26.1 

24.6 

24.5 

24.5 

23.9 

27.7 

30.1 

36.3 

30.9 

35.2 

36.8 

35.9 

141.0 

153.4 

164.4 

170.5 

37.5 

35.1 

32.1 

31.0 

285.6 

308.9 

328.8 

337.8 

149.2 

155.2 

159.9 

165.1 

11.7 

10.8 

10.8 

9.8 

154.0 

160.7 

176.4 

185.6 

45.1 

38.0 

34.6 

35.1 

33.1 

34.3 

35.3 

39.9 

187.1 

201.8 

218.3 

229.6 

26.3 

28.6 

35.5 

41.5 

15.2 

17.4 

19.6 

21.2 

80.8 

83.8 

87.8 

86.7 

9.5 

9.6 

9.6 

9.5 

85.6 

90.0 

95.2 

96.7 

443.8 

404.2 

345.3 

328.8 

35.5 

32.2 

26.7 

24.9 

13.8 

15.3 

16.5 

17.5 

152.0 

169.5 

182.9 

191.0 

1.9 

2.4 

2.0 

2.3 

80.6 

84.5 

88.9 

96.6 

13.6 

14.1 

14.7 

14.0 

22.8 

22.8 

24.0 

24.3 

64.6 

68.0 

72.2 

76.4 

18.2 

16.2 

10.8 

10.4 

4 , 681.4 

4 , 828.4 

4 , 960.2 

5 , 081.4 


106.6 


14.3 


23.4 


80.8 


10.1 


5 , 145.4 



















































































































































































CONSTRUCTION WORKFORCE COVERAGE 
BY IMIS DATA BASE 


ttfls - ^.a^T,^po 

Percent of Construct Id n Warttprea 

1001 - 



12 


1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 

Year 





CHAPTER 3 


ANALYSIS OF THE DATA 

3.1 Introduction 

A 5-year period was selected for the purpose of this study. This length of 
time should be sufficient to discern any trends that might be apparent in the data. In 
addition, fully computerized records were available in the IMIS data base for this 
length of time. Calendar years 1985 through 1989 were selected as the 5-year 
period. 

The analysis had two objectives. The first was to determine any general 
trends in construction fatalities associated with factors such as geography, time, 
industry group or age of worker. This information would be useful for overall safety 
planning purposes, for example, to develop regional emphasis programs. The 
second objective was to look in detail at the causes of fatalities. Targeted 
inspection programs focused on high hazard activities could be developed and 
possibly new or improved standards developed on the basis of this information. 

The OSHA-170 fatality investigation report contains a considerable amount 
of information. Twenty entries ranging from the location of the accident to the 
specific cause are included. The analysis in this report deals primarily with data 
directly available on the OSHA-170. The report also includes related information 
which is useful in interpreting the results of the analysis. For example, data on the 
age distribution of the construction workforce population is included for use in 
understanding the relationship between the number of fatalities and age group. 

The analyses included in this report were intended to identify the variables 
having a significant influence on fatalities. Other analyses are possible. Subsequent 
studies to determine the relationship between the parameters not considered in this 
study may be conducted in the future. 

3.2 Analysis Procedure 

The IMIS data base is maintained by the OSHA Office of Management Data 
Systems. The data resides on a mainframe computer at 


13 



Boeing Computer Services, Inc., located in Vienna, Virginia. Remote access data 
entry and search capability via telephone line is available in the OSHA area offices 
around the country, the National Office in Washington, D.C. and the State-Plan 
states. For the purpose of this study, the construction fatality data was downloaded 
to a personal computer in the National Office prior to analysis. Construction 
fatalities were defined as fatalities associated with firms in Standard Industrial 
Classification Codes, SICs 15, 16 or 17. The data were downloaded to a personal 
computer to improve processing efficiency since only that portion of the complete 
IMIS data base of interest needed to be searched. Since some changes were made 
to the data prior to processing, this also permitted maintaining the integrity of the 
original data base. Additional data were obtained on the number of fatalities 
occurring in California, Michigan and Washington for those years in which they did 
not participate in IMIS. This information was obtained through direct contact with 
state agencies. 

Each fatality record in the data base was reviewed for consistency and 
completeness after downloading to the personal computer. Some changes were 
made to the cause of the accident indicated in the record. No attempt was made to 
second guess the original accident investigator but in some cases a different accident 
cause from that originally cited was deemed more appropriate. For example, where 
a fatality was due to an employee contacting an electrical source and the event type 
cited on the OSHA-170 was struck by, this was changed to the event type shock. 

Of the 3,496 total fatalities (2,422 Federal fatalities, 1,074 state fatalities) in the data 
base, the event type for 577 or 17 percent was changed. The narrative summary of 
the accident on the OSHA-170 contained important descriptive information relating 
to the nature of the accident. For trenching fatalities, for example, the narrative 
provided data on the depth of the trench. For fatalities due to falls, the height of the 
fall was included in the narrative summary. This information was specially coded 
into preselected categories for each type of event causing a fatality prior to 
processing the data. 

Data were arranged and stored in an accessible format on the personal 
computer using the DBASE IV software package (3). This software has built-in 
capabilities which allow searching, sorting, counting. 


14 



merging, and editing data to extract that needed to produce the type of tables and 
figures included in this report. 

The number of useful fatality records available for each of the analyses 
presented in Sections 3.3 and 3.4 varied depending on the completeness of the 
information provided on the OSHA-170. For example, for fatalities caused by falls, 
there were 1,148 records in the data base. Records usually contained the basic 
information such as the accident location and age of the worker. The height of the 
fall, however, was not given in the written summary for 142 of these records. Thus, 
when analyzing the variation with time of fatalities due to falls, 1,148 records were 
available. For analyses relating to the height of the fall, however, only 1,006 
records were available. For each analysis in Sections 3.3 and 3.4, the number of 
records or number of fatalities used in the analysis is indicated. 

3.3. Distribution of Fatalities 

The number of fatalities for each year for the period 1985 to 1989 is shown in 
Figure 3.3.1. The number of fatalities investigated by OSHA fluctuates around 700 
per year and there is no general trend with time. The percent change in the number 
of fatalities from year to year is approximately 10 percent. Similarly, there is no 
general trend with time of the number of fatalities reported to the Agency given in 
Chapter 2. 

The geographic distribution of fatalities by OSHA region is given in Table 
3.3.1 for each of the 5 years. The data in the table are listed separately for the 
Federal and State-Plan states for each region. Table 3.3.1b lists the states included 
in each OSHA region. Referring to Table 3.3.1, the data for all the regions except 
Region VI do not indicate any trend with time. For Region II, for example, the total 
fatalities increased from 49 to 90 from 1985 to 1988 then decreased to 42 in 1989. 
For Region I, the total fatalities decreased from 1985 to 1986, increased from 1986 
to 1987 then began decreasing. In some cases, there were significant changes from 
one year to the next. For example, in Region I, the number of fatalities decreased 
by 35 percent from 1985 to 1986 then increased 100 percent from 1986 to 1987. 

The reasons for these large changes from year to year are not apparent. For Region 
VI, the trend in the number of fatalities is continually downward decreasing from 
159 in 


15 



1985 to 85 in 1989, a 47 percent decrease in 5 years. This decrease occurred in the 
four Federal OSHA states in the region; very few fatalities occurred in New Mexico, 
the State-Plan state in Region VI. 

It is important when comparing the number of fatalities between regions to 
recognize the difference in the size and nature of the regions and consequently the 
amount of construction activity or the construction workforce at risk. One way to 
take these differences into account is to compare fatality rates or the number of 
fatalities as a function of the number of workers. Fatality rates for the regions are 
given in Table 3.3.2. The number of construction workers for each region taking 
into account the states participating in the IMIS system and the number of workers 
in the states given in Table 2.3.2 used to calculate these rates is given in Table 
3.3.2b. This calculation takes into account both the size of the region (number of 
workers in any given year) and changes in construction activity in any region from 
one year to the next assuming the size of the workforce reflects these changes. 
California data, both the number of fatalities and the construction workforce, were 
not included in determining the rates for 1987 and 1989, in view of the lack of 
complete fatality data. The fatality rates for Regions VI and X decrease over the 5- 
year period; the rate for Region on VIII generally increases. There is no consistent 
pattern for the other regions. Regions V, VI and X have the highest average fatality 
rate. Regions I and II the lowest average rate. 

The fatality rates for 1985 to 1989 for the entire United States are shown in 
Figure 3.3.2. These values are the same as the average of the 10 regions given for 
each year in Table 3.3.2. The fatality rate increases from 1985 to 1987 then 
decreases for 1988 and 1989. 

When comparing these rates with other published values it is important to 
consider the procedure used to make the calculation. The BUS fatality rates, for 
example, are based on the actual number of hours worked in a given year rather than 
simply the number of construction workers. The total hours worked by all 
employees in a calendar year used in the BUS calculations of fatality rates (EH in 
Appendix B) corresponds to approximately 70 percent of the number of hours for 
full employment (2,000 hours) for the total workforce. Converting the BUS 
construction fatality rate of 24.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers for 1988 to the same 


16 



basis as used in this report, (full employment of the workforce) by multiplying by 
0.7 gives a rate of 17.2. This rate is comparable to the values in Figure 3.3.2. 

The variation of construction fatalities as a function of the day of the week is 
shown in Figure 3.3.3. There is no significant difference between the various days 
of the normal 5-day work week. The percentage of fatalities occurring on the 
weekend is significantly lower than during the week due to the reduced amount of 
hours worked during this period. 

It is of interest to determine the relationship between the number of fatalities 
and various characteristics of the construction activity or the workforce. Table 3.3.3 
and Figures 3.3.4, 3.3.5, 3.3.6 and 3.3.7 present data related to the industry group or 
SIC code, worker age and union affiliation. The number of fatalities for each of the 
three digit SIC codes for the industry groups (business activity) comprising 
construction, SICs 15, 16 and 17 (4) is given in Table 3.3.3. The largest number of 
fatalities for each of the 5 years occurs in SIC 162, Heavy Construction. The 
fatalities for this activity represent 25 percent of the total fatalities for the 5-year 
period. The number of fatalities for Special Trade Contractors (SIC 179) is almost 
as high and represents 21 percent of the total fatalities. 

The number of fatalities for SIC 162, Heavy Construction decreased from 198 
in 1985 to 160 in 1989, a 19 percent decrease over the 5-year period. Further study 
is required to determine the reason for the decrease. It could be due to improved 
safety practices, a reduction in the workforce at risk due to changes in the 
construction market or some other cause. The data for the other industry groups do 
not follow any trends over time. 

The distribution of construction fatalities among the three industry groups (SIC 
15, 16 and 17), is presented in Figure 3.3.4. The percentages shown differ slightly 
from those in Table 3.3.3 due to rounding. Special trade contractors (SIC 17) 
account for 53 percent of the total fatalities. Special trade contractors may work on 
subcontract for the general contractor or they may work directly for the owner. 
Heavy construction other than building construction (SIC 16) accounts for 34 
percent and building construction (SIC 15) 13 percent. These results can be used as 
a criteria for targeting OSHA construction inspections. 


17 



The influence of age of the worker on fatalities is presented in Figure 3.3.5. 

The percentage of the total fatalities occurring in each age group is shown. The 
percentage of the construction workforce in each age group is also shown for 
comparison. The largest percentage of fatalities, 32 percent, occurs in the 25 to 34 
year age group. Workers between the ages of 25 and 44 account for over 50 
percent of the fatalities. The percentage of fatalities in each age group is within 2 
percent of the percentage of the workforce population in that age group; older 
workers or younger workers do not experience a disproportionate share of 
construction fatalities. 

Figure 3.3.6 provides a comparison of the fatalities for worksites with a union 
or nonunion workforce for the 5-year period, 1985 to 1989. Data recorded on the 
OSHA 1 accident investigation form indicate whether employees at the jobsite of 
the employer of the deceased worker were union or nonunion workers. If any of 
these employees were organized by a union, the entry on the OSHA 1 was marked 
"union". If none of the workers were organized by a union then the entry was 
marked "nonunion". An entry marked "union", therefore, does not necessarily 
indicate that the worker killed in the accident was a member of a union. Of the 
3,496 total fatalities from 1985 to 1989, 973 or 28 percent occurred at sites with 
union representation; 2,523 or 72 percent occurred at worksites were there was no 
union representation. 

A yearly comparison of the union versus nonunion worksite fatalities is given 
in Figure 3.3.7. The composition of the total construction workforce in terms of 
union and nonunion workers is provided for comparison. Data on the union 
membership was obtained from a special survey done as part of the yearly House- 
Hold Survey conducted by the Bureau of Compensation and Working Conditions 
(5), a unit of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Referring to Figure 3.3.7, for 1985, 30 
percent of the fatalities occurred at union worksites, 70 percent at nonunion 
worksites. For that year, union membership accounted for 22 percent of the 
workforce, 78 percent was nonunion. The distribution of fatalities among union and 
nonunion worksites is si mi lar to the composition of the construction workforce in 
terms of union and nonunion workers for the 5-year period shown in the figure. 


18 



The relationship between the number of fatalities for various size firms, 
defined in terms of the number of employees employed by the firm, and the 
representation of the construction workforce by the size of the firm is shown in 
Figure 3.3.8. Information is recorded on the OSHA-1 form indicating the number of 
employees on the site and the number of employees "controlled" by the company. 
This later figure represents the total number of employees employed by the company 
(firm size) for which the fatality occurred. This information was used to determine 
the percentage of the total fatalities occurring for the various size firms shown in the 
figure. Data on the representation of the construction workforce by the size of the 
firm was obtained from the Bureau of the Census (16, 17, 18) and is also shown. 
Referring to Figure 3.3.8, 10 percent of the fatalities for the period 1985 to 1987 
occurred for firms with one to four employees. Firms of this size controlled 11 
percent of the workforce. Firms with less than 100 employees account for 75 
percent of the construction workforce. Sixty-eight percent of the fatalities occurred 
for these firms. The percentage of fatalities for the various size construction firms is 
similar to the representation of the construction workforce in terms of firm size. 

3.4 Causes of Fatalities 

Identifying the causes of fatalities is the first step in developing a prevention 
strategy. Table 3.4.1 summarizes the causes of fatalities based on the 14 categories 
included on the OSHA-170 accident form. Falls from elevation represent the largest 
cause, 33 percent, of all construction fatalities. Struck by, caught in/between and 
electrical shock in that order represent the next three largest causes. These four 
causes or types of accidents represent 90 percent of the total. The relationship 
among the causes of fatalities for the State-Plan states is similar to that for the 
Federal OSHA states. 

The variation with time of the causes of fatalities is presented in Table 3.4.2 
and Figure 3.4.1. The relative contribution of the four major causes (falls from 
elevation, struck by, caught in/between, electrical shock) to the total number of 
fatalities does not vary significantly over the 5-year period. This would seem to 
indicate the same types of fatal accidents are continuing to occur with the same 
relative frequency. 


19 



Table 3.4.3 illustrates the variation of the causes of fatalities between the 
OSHA regions. There is some variation between regions of the percent of fatalities 
associated with each of the four major causes of fatalities. The caught in/between 
category, for example, ranges from a low of 16 percent of the total fatalities in 
Regions V, VI and IX to a high of 28 percent in Region X. Similarly, falls from 
elevation range from a low of 28 percent of the total fatalities in Regions VII and 
VIII to a high of 41 percent in Region X. There are similar variations in the struck 
by and electrical shock categories. 

The influence of construction activity on the causes of fatalities is given in 
Table 3.4.4. The largest percentage of falls, for example, occur for special trade 
contractors, 27 percent. The largest percentage of struck by events, on the other 
hand, 28 percent, occur in heavy construction. It is of interest to note, that the 
percentage of fatalities due to electrical shock is almost the same for heavy 
construction (SIC 162) and electrical work (SIC 173). This warrants further study 
and may be due in one case to contacting overhead power lines with heavy 
equipment and in the other simply due to the hazards of general electrical work 
(installation, etc.). 

The data in Table 3.4.4 also illustrate the variation of the causes of fatalities for 
each industry group. For general building contractors (SIC 152), for example, 57 of 
the 126 fatalities or 45 percent were due to falls. By contrast, for electrical workers 
(SIC 173) 126 of the 211 fatalities or 60 percent were due to shock. 

The relationship between the causes of fatalities and worker age is given in 
Table 3.4.5. There does not appear to be a correlation between the two parameters. 
The largest percentage of fatalities for each of the causes occurs in the 25 to 34 year 
age group. Similarly the next largest occurs generally in the 35 to 44 year age 
group. These age groups correspond to those with the largest percentage of the 
workforce (see Figure 3.3.5). 

It is of interest to look beyond the causes of fatalities and attempt to identify 
contributing factors or characteristics of the accidents which underlie these causes. 
Table 3.4.6, for example, identifies the type of 


20 



activity or location associated with falls, the major cause of construction fatalities. 
The fall location or activity indicated should not be confused with the trade of the 
worker involved in the accident. Falls from scaffolds, for example, include painters, 
masons, ironworkers, etc. Roofs and scaffolds are the major sources of falls. The 
data also indicate that fall hazards are greater for steel erection than concrete 
erection based on the significant difference in the number of fatalities and the 
assumption that the number of workers exposed is approximately the same for the 
two activities. The number of fatalities due to falls involving steel erection is also 
larger than falls from ladders. 

The height involved for the fatalities due to falls is shown in Figure 3.4.2. 
Approximately 40 percent of the fatalities involved falls of greater than 30 feet. 
Twenty-five percent of the fatalities occurred for falls between 11 and 20 feet and a 
similar percentage from 21 to 30 feet. 

The contributing factors involved in fatalities due to being struck by an object 
are shown in Figure 3.4.3. Approximately 75 percent of the fatalities over the 5- 
year period caused by being struck by machines involve primarily heavy 
construction equipment such as trucks, cranes, graders, and scrapers. Many of the 
fatalities caused by being struck by materials involve poor rigging of loads being 
moved or poor storage of materials. Tools account for very few of these fatalities. 
There does not appear to be any significant trend with time. 

The analysis of fatalities due to being caught in or between is shown in Figure 
3.4.4. The majority of the accidents involving being caught in are related to 
trenching collapses. Caught between fatalities primarily involve the worker being 
caught between a vehicle and another surface. As can be seen in Figure 3.4.4 
accidents involving being caught in are considerably more numerous than those 
involving being caught between two objects. This relationship does not vary with 
time. 


For fatalities due to trench cave-ins, it is of interest to look at the depth of the 
trench involved. This relationship is shown in Figure 3.4.5. Seventy-nine percent of 
trenching fatalities occur in trenches less than 15 


21 



feet deep. Thirty-eight percent of the fatalities occur in trenches less than 10 feet 
deep. These results are similar to those obtained by Suruda, et. al. (6). 

Results of the analysis of fatalities caused by electrical shock are given in 
Figure 3.4.6 and Tables 3.4.7 and 3.4.8. Of the total fatalities due to electric shock, 
95 percent were due to contact with live parts and 5 percent were due to 
ungrounded tools. As shown in Figure 3.4.7, 74 percent of the fatalities involve 
electrical sources with voltages exceeding 480 volts. The type of equipment 
involved with fatalities caused by electrical shock is listed in Table 3.4.7. A high 
percentage of the fatalities involving electrical boxes were associated with the lack 
of lock-out tag-out protection, use of personal protective equipment or other fonns 
of protection. Contact with overhead wires account for 65 percent of the total. 
Sources of contact with the overhead wires are listed in Table 3.4.8. Cranes 
account for 29 percent of these sources. For the "other" category in Table 3.4.8, 
about 25 percent or 8 percent of the total are due to contacts with hand carried items 
such as metal pipe, rebar, paint rollers, etc. The remaining 75 percent of the "other" 
category or about 24 percent of the total are due to contacts of miscellaneous 
equipment such as back hoes, trucks, drill rigs, aerial lifts, etc. Thus, 53 percent of 
the fatalities associated with contacting overhead power lines involve construction 
equipment. 


22 



TABLE 3.3.1 


GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF FATALITIES 


Number of Fatalities 




1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Total 


Federal State 

41 

24 

52 

32 

34 


Region I 


1 

3 

2 

1 

1 



Combined 

42 

27 

54 

33 

35 

191 


Federal 

46 

50 

51 

73 

35 


Region II 

State 

3 

8 

12 

17 

7 



Combined 

49 

58 

63 

90 

42 

302 


Federal 

40 

38 

46 

33 

46 


Region III 

State 

57 

35 

55 

67 

42 



Combined 

97 

73 

101 

100 

88 

459 


Federal 

102 

135 

108 

109 

90 


Region IV 

State 

54 

58 

71 

65 

81 



Combined 

156 

193 

179 

174 

171 

873 


Federal 

77 

85 

69 

71 

89 


Region V 

State 

43 

24 

39 

36 

44 



Combined 

120 

109 

108 

107 

133 

577 


Federal 

■B 

mm 

95 

86 

84 


Region VI 

State 

HH 

WBM 

2 

6 

1 



Combined 



97 

92 

85 

542 


Federal 

28 

23 

29 

26 

22 


Region VII 

State 

13 

13 

10 

14 

11 



Combined 

41 

36 

39 

40 

33 

189 


Federal 

16 

21 

21 

14 

16 


Region Vin 

State 

10 

9 

5 

6 

9 



Combined 

26 

30 

26 

20 

25 

127 


Federal 

2 

■■ 

33 

42 

20 


Region IX 

State 

22 


11 

15 

23 



Combined 

24 

■■ 

44 

57 

43 

182 


Federal 

■■ 

3 

2 

4 

0 


Region X 

State 


8 

11 

3 

8 



Combined 

■■ 

11 

13 

7 

8 

54 

Total 


729 

660 

724 

720 

663 

3496 


23 


































































































TABLE 3.3.1b 


OSHA REGIONS 


Region I 

Connecticut*, Massachusetts, 
Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode 
Island, Vermont*. 

Region II 

New Jersey, New York*, Puerto 
Rico*, Virgin Islands*. 

Region III 

District of Columbia, Delaware, 
Maryland*, Pennsylvania, 
Virginia*, West Virginia. 

Region IV 

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, 
Kentucky*, Mississippi, North 
Carolina*, South Carolina*, 
Tennessee*. 

Region V 


Region VI 

Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico*, 
Oklahoma, Texas 

Region VII 

Iowa*, Kansas, Missouri 
Nebraska 

Region VIII 

Colorado, Montana, North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Utah*, 
Wyoming*. 

Region IX 

Arizona*, California*, Hawaii*, 
Nevada*. 


Region X 


Illinois, Indiana*, Michigan*, Alaska*, Idaho, Oregon*, 

Minnesota*, Ohio, Wisconsin. Washington*. 

* These states and territories operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health 
programs (the Connecticut and New York plans cover public employees only). 


24 



TABLE 3.3.2 
FATALITY RATES 

Fatality Rate * 



1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Average 

Region I 

16.3 

9.3 

16.9 

10.0 

11.4 

12.8 

Region II 

10.8 

11.8 

11.9 

16.3 

7.6 

11.7 

Region III 

18.6 

12.9 

16.5 

15.6 

13.5 

15.4 

Region IV 

16.3 

19.6 

17.7 

17.1 

16.8 

17.5 

Region V 

21.6 

19.8 

18.3 

16.7 

18.6 

19.0 

Region VI 

23.8 

18.1 

18.4 

18.1 

17.2 

19.1 

Region VII 

20.7 

17.8 

19.1 

19.9 

16.3 

18.8 

Region VIII 

15.1 

19.2 

19.0 

16.1 

20.1 

17.9 

Region IX 

14.8 

11.6 

28.5** 

7.8 

26.8** 

17.9 

Region X 

24.4 

18.4 

18.9 

18.2 

15.2 

19.0 

Average 

18.2 

15.8 

18.6 

15.6 

16.4 

16.9 


* Number of fatalities _x 100,000 

Number of construction workers in Region (Table 3.3.2b) 

** Excluding California 


25 

























































































TABLE 3.3.2b 


Number of Construction Workers 
(Thousands) 



1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Region I 

258.3 

289.3 

320.1 

331.3 

306.5 

Region II 

454.8 

493.3 

530.7 

552.1 

549.7 

Region III 

521.9 

566.6 

612.4 

641.7 

651.6 

Region IV 

955.8 

986.6 

1007.2 

1020.8 

1017.8 

Region V 

656.3 

693.1 

747.2 

784.0 

815.5 

Region VI 

666.9 

604.0 

527.4 

509.5 

495.6 

Region VII 

197.9 

201.8 

204.2 

201.5 

202.4 

Region VIII 

172.7 

156.6 

134.0 

124.1 

124.4 

Region IX 

649.4 

690.4 

154.5* 

756.7 

160.7* 

Region X 

147.4 

146.8 

147.9 

159.7 

177.6 

TOTAL 

4681.4 

4828.5 

4385.6 

5081.4 

4501.8 


* Excluding California 

Numbers reflect states participating in the IMIS system and were obtained using 
data in Table 2.3.2. 


26 







































































TABLE 3.3.3 


TIME VARIATION OF FATALITIES BY CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY 


Number of Fatalities 


Industry Group (SIC) 

1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Total 

(1985-89) 

Percent 

Total 

General Building 

Contractors - Residential 
Buildings (152) 

26 

24 

32 

23 

21 

126 

4 

Operative Builders (153) 

2 

1 

3 

3 

1 

10 

* 

General Building 

Contractors - 
Nonresidential Buildings 
(154) 

70 

51 

69 

79 

64 

333 

10 

Highway and Street 
Construction, except 
Elevated Highways (161) 

68 

59 

68 

63 

49 

307 

9 

Heavy Construction, 

Except Highway and Street 
Construction (162) 

198 

182 

178 

162 

160 

880 

25 

Plumbing, Heating and Air 
Conditioning (171) 

44 

29 

42 

35 

34 

184 

5 

Painting and Paper 

Hanging (172) 

28 

25 

27 

32 

22 

134 

4 

Electrical Work (173) 

40 

38 

36 

48 

49 

211 

6 

Masonry, Stonework, Tile 
Setting, and Plastering 
(174) 

30 

37 

36 

31 

22 

156 

4 

Carpentry and Floor Work 
(175) 

17 

12 

11 

12 

18 

70 

2 

Roofing, Siding , and 

Sheet Metal Work (176) 

41 

47 

43 

58 

49 

238 

7 

Concrete Work (177) 

18 

15 

17 

18 

19 

87 

2 

Water Well Drilling (178) 

2 

2 

2 

2 

7 

15 

* 

Miscelaneoue Special 

Trade Contractors (179) 

145 

138 

160 

154 

148 

745 

21 


* Less than 0.5 percent. 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


27 



























































































































TABLE 3.4.1 


SUMMARY OF CAUSES OF FATALITIES 
1985-1989 



Number of Fatalities 

Cause 

Federal 

State-Plan 

States 

Total 

Fatalities 

Percent of 
All 

Fatalities 

Struck By 

548 

233 

781 

22 

Caught In/Between 

432 

207 

639 

18 

Bite/Sting/Scratch 

1 

0 

1 

* 

Fall (same level) 

5 

5 

10 

* 

Fall (from elevation) 

829 

319 

1148 

33 

Struck Against 

35 

11 

46 

1 

Rubbed/Abraded 

0 

1 

1 

* 

Inhalation 

47 

15 

62 

2 

Ingestion 

2 

2 

4 

* 

Absorption 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Repetitive 

Motion/Pressure 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Cardiovascular/ 

Respiratory 

74 

35 

109 

3 

Shock (electrical) 

394 

186 

580 

17 

Other 

55 

60 

115 

3 

Total 

2422 

1074 

3496 



*Less than 0.5 percent. 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 pecent. 


28 





















































































TABLE 3.4.2 


VARIATION OF CAUSES OF FATALITIES WITH TIME 

Percent of Fatalities* ** 


Cause 

1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Average 

Struck By 

22 

26 

20 

23 

22 

23 

Caught In/Between 

17 

18 

23 

15 

19 

18 

Bite/Sting/Scratch 

0 

0 

0 

0 

** 

** 

Fall (same level) 

0 

1 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Fall (from elevation) 

36 

28 

30 

36 

34 

33 

Struck Against 

1 

2 

2 

1 

** 

1 

Rubbed/Abraded 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Inhalation 

1 

2 

1 

2 

3 

2 

Ingestion 

** 

** 

0 

** 

0 

** 

Absorption 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Repetitive Motion/ 
Pressure 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

0 

Cardiovascular/ 

Respiratory 

3 

4 

3 

3 

3 

3 

Shock (electrical) 

14 

18 

17 

18 

16 

17 

Other 

4 

3 

4 

2 

3 

3 


* Number of fatalities due to a specific cause 
Total fatalities in a given year 

** Less than 0.5 percent. 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 pecent. 


29 













































































































TABLE 3.4.3 


GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF CAUSES OF FATALITIES 


1985-1989 

Percent of Fatalities* 


Causes 

Region 

I 

Region 

II 

Region 

III 

Region 

IV 

Region 

V 

Region 

VI 

Region 

VII 

Region 

VIII 

Region 

IX 

Region 

X 

Stuck By 

22 

25 

27 

20 

18 

27 

19 

21 

26 

II 

Caught In/Between 

23 

21 

17 

17 

16 

16 

25 

20 

16 

28 

B ite/S ting/S cratch 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Fall (same level) 

** 

** 

** 

I 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Fall (from elevation) 

33 

34 

31 

30 

39 

33 

28 

28 

33 

41 

Stmck Against 

I 

I 

I 

I 

I 

I 

2 

3 

2 

** 

Ruhhed/Abraded 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Inhalation 

2 

I 

I 

3 

2 

2 

I 

2 

2 

** 

Ingestion 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Ahsortion 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Reptetive Motion/Pressure 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

** 

Cardiovascular/Respiratory 

4 

2 

2 

4 

5 

2 

3 

8 

I 

** 

Shock 

13 

14 

17 

20 

15 

16 

20 

13 

17 

II 

Other 

2 

I 

3 

4 

4 

3 

2 

4 

3 

9 


* Number of fatalities 
Total fatalities in region 


** Less than 0.5 percent 



























































































TABLE 3.4.4 


RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY 
AND CAUSE OE EATALITY 
1985-1989 


Number of Fatalities 
(Percent of Total)* 


Industry Group (SIC) 

Falls 

Struck 

By 

Caught In/ 
Between 

Shock 

Other 

Total 

General Building Contractors - Residential Buildings (152) 

57 

(5%) 

29 

(4%) 

16 

(3%) 

18 

(3%) 

6 

(2%) 

126 

Operative Builders (153) 

5 

4 

1 

0 

0 

10 

General Building Contractors - Nonresidential Buildings 
(154) 

141 

(12%) 

70 

(9%) 

44 

(7%) 

A1 

(8%) 

31 

(9%) 

333 

Highway and Street Construction, except Elevated 

Highways (161) 

13 

(1%) 

181 

(23%) 

64 

(10%) 

27 

(5%) 

22 

(6%) 

307 

Heavy Construction, Except Highway and Street 
Construction (162) 

129 

(11%) 

216 

(28%) 

278 

(44%) 

137 

(24%) 

120 

(35%) 

880 

Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning (171) 

50 

(4%) 

25 

(3%) 

47 

(7%) 

21 

(4%) 

41 

(12%) 

184 

Painting and Paper Hanging (172) 

74 

(6%) 

1 

4 

(1%) 

38 

(7%) 

17 

(5%) 

134 

Electrical Work (173) 

36 

(3%) 

14 

(2%) 

8 

(1%) 

126 

(22%) 

27 

(8%) 

211 

Masonry, Stonework, Tile Setting, and Plastering (174) 

94 

(8%) 

32 

(4%) 

16 

(3%) 

7 

(1%) 

7 

(2%) 

156 

Carpentry and Floor Work (175) 

44 

(4%) 

10 

(1%) 

3 

10 

(2%) 

3 

(1%) 

70 

Roofing, Siding, and Sheet Metal Work (176) 

174 

(15%) 

9 

(1%) 

5 

(1%) 

42 

(7%) 

8 

(2%) 

238 

Concrete Work (177) 

22 

(2%) 

35 

(4%) 

10 

(2%) 

11 

(2%) 

9 

(3%) 

87 

Water Well Drilling (178) 

0 

4 

(1%) 

4 

(1%) 

5 

(1%) 

2 

(1%) 

15 

Miscellaneous Special Trade Contractors (179) 

309 

(27%) 

151 

(19%) 

139 

(22%) 

91 

(16%) 

55 

(16%) 

745 

Total 

1148 

781 

639 

580 

348 

3496 


* Number of fatalities _ 

Total fatalities due to a specific cause 


** Less than 0.5 percent. 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


31 






















































































































TABLE 3.4.5 


REIATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGE AND CAUSE OF FATALITY 

1985-1989 


Number of Fatalities 




( 

Percent Total) 

* 



Age Group 

Falls 

Struck By 

Caught 

In/Between 

Shock 

Other 

Total 

16-19 years 

35 

(3%) 

33 

(4%) 

24 

(4%) 

30 

(5%) 

11 

(3%) 

133 

20-24 years 

153 

(13%) 

101 

(13%) 

111 

(17%) 

131 

(23%) 

36 

(10%) 

532 

25-34 years 

374 

(33%) 

215 

(28%) 

191 

(30%) 

222 

(38%) 

115 

(33%) 

1117 

35-44 years 

244 

(21%) 

172 

(22%) 

142 

(22%) 

122 

(21%) 

91 

(26%) 

771 

45-54 years 

189 

(17%) 

152 

(19%) 


46 

(8%) 

42 

(12%) 

514 

55-64 years 

128 

(11%) 

92 

(12%) 

76 

(12%) 

25 

(4%) 

47 

(14%) 

368 

65 years 

22 

14 

9 

2 

5 

52 

and older 

(2%) 

(2%) 

(1%) 

** 

(1%) 


Total 

1145 

779 

638 

578 

347 

3487 


* Number of fatalities _ 

Total fatalities due to specific cause 


** Less than 0.5 percent 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


32 




































































TABLE 3.4.6 


SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES INVOLVING FATALITIES DUE TO FALLS 

1985-1989 


Fall Location/Activity 

Number of 

Fatalitites 

Percent of 
Total 

Roof 

297 

26 

Open Sided Floor 

43 

4 

Scaffold 

214 

19 

Steel Erection 

123 

11 

Concrete Erection 

34 

3 

Aerial Lift/Basket 

31 

3 

Suspended Platform 

25 

2 

Vehicle 

6 

1 

Ladder 

73 

6 

Floor Opening 

74 

6 

Other 

228 

20 


NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


33 










































TABLE 3.4.7 


EQUIPMENT INVOLVED WITH FATALITIES CAUSED BY SHOCK 


Equipment Involved 

Number of Eatalities 

Percent Total 

Hand Held Tool 

18 

3 

Non Hand Held 
Tool/Equipment 

16 

3 

Electric Cord 

34 

6 

Electrical Box 

63 

11 

Overhead Wires 

377 

65 

Other 

72 

12 


NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


34 


























TABLE 3.4.8 


FATALITIES DUE TO CONTRACT WITH OVERHEAD WIRES - 

SOURCE OF CONTACT 


Type of Contact 

Number of Fatalities 

Percent Total 

Ladder 

55 

15 

Scaffold 

28 

7 

Direct Employee Contact 

65 

17 

Crane 

111 

29 

Other 

120 

32 


35 
























FIGURE 3.3.1 

CONSTRUCTION FATALITIES 
1985-1989 



36 


Year 



FIGURE 3.3.2 

U.S. CONSTRUCTION FATALITY RATE 



37 


■1905 1986 19B7 1988 19&9 

Year 



LU 



QC> 
I- m 

cn 


Q 


Percent FatailtlsA 



38 





CO 

UJ 


t £L 

f O 

CO U- s- O) 

0^7 

<0 


LU 

DC 

D 

O 

L- 


2r) 

I- Q 
13 Z 
DO ^ 

CO 


G 



39 



CL 

D 

Og 

LU L. 

0 

<CC 
CQ § 


in 

«C0 

0 LU 


LU 

DC 

D 

0 

ul 


lu 

0 


Z lU 

2 Z 
. ^ 

O DC 

55^ 

I"' 

< 



o 

N 


01 

CD 

Lfi 

(0 


If) 

CD 

( 

to 


C5 

I 

ID 


D 

O 

O 

k- 

0 

& 


TT 

U) 

CO 



H) CA 

D) 

CD < +; 


LD 

W 


I 

o 

CM 


(fl 

cfl 

IL 




05 

I 

CD 


(D 


40 








41 


Union Nonunion 





FIGURE 3.3.7 

COMPARISON OF FATALITIES AT 
UNION VERSUS NONUNION WORKSITES 



42 


Union 























FIGURE 3.3.8 

ANALYSIS OF FATALITIES BY SIZE OF FIRM 
I COMPOSITION OF CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY 



43 


Number of Employees 

Fatalilies Industry Composition 





FIGURE 3.4.1 
CAUSES OF FATALITIES 



44 












































FIGURE 3.4.2 
ANALYSIS OF FATALITIES 
CAUSED BY FALLS 



45 


ir-20' 21'-30' 

Height of Fall 







FIGURE 3.4.3 

ANALYSIS OF FATALITIES CAUSED BY 

STRUCK BY 



46 











FIGURE 3.4.4 

ANALYSIS OF FATALITIES CAUSED BY 



47 


Caught In W Caught Between 








FIGURE 3.4.5 

ANALYSIS OF TRENCHING FATALITIES 



48 


5 - 9 ' 10 - 14 ' 15 - 20 ' 

Depth of Trench 





FIGURE 3.4.6 
ANALYSIS OF FATALITIES 



49 


Voltage 












CHAPTER 4 


COMPARISON OF DATA BASES 


4.1 Introduction 

Numerous estimates of occupational fatalities have been published over the 
years. In some cases, the methodology and source of the data used to develop the 
estimate have been documented; in other cases, this has not been done. For the 
purposes of this report, results obtained from the OSHA data base will be compared 
with results from the following organizations: (1) Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2) 
National Safety Council and (3) National Institute for Occupational Safety and 
Health. These three organizations are generally recognized sources of information 
on occupational illness and injury data. 

4.2 Data and Data Collection Procedures 

A detailed description of the methodology used by each of the organizations 
is presented in the Appendices. Additional published information on these data 
bases is available (7 through 15). Table 4.2.1 provides a comparison of the key 
elements of the three methodologies with those used for the OSHA data base. 
Different data collection procedures are used by the various organizations. OSHA 
relies primarily on employer reporting or coverage by the news media to initiate a 
fatality investigation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also relies on information from 
the employer but collects the data through a questionnaire. Both the National Safety 
Council and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health rely on death 
certificate data. 

Each of these data collection procedures has shortcomings. Underreporting 
of fatalities by the firms with fatalities is a possibility for the OSHA and BLS 
methods, data accuracy and the ability to identify the appropriate death certificates 
are potential problems for the NSC and NIOSH surveys. BLS obtains a response 
rate for their survey of approximately 95 percent. In the NIOSH study, workers 
whose industry of employment was unknown or unclassiflable amounted to 13 
percent of all the workers killed. Some portion of these were undoubtedly 
construction fatalities. 


51 



The population, limitations and exclusions, for each methodology are given in 
Table 4.2.1 and must be recognized in any comparison of results. OSHA includes 
primarily private sector fatalities. The NSC and NIOSH populations include both 
the public and private sectors, whereas the BLS covers only the private sector. BLS 
includes only firms with 11 employees or more. OSHA does investigate fatalities 
for firms with fewer than 11 employees. The size of the firm in which the fatality 
occurs is not a limitation in the NSC or NIOSH methods. The BLS includes 
occupational deaths caused by heart attacks, the other three organizations do not. 
OSHA normally does not include deaths involving over the road vehicles and the 
other three organizations do include them. Also, the OSHA-170 form is completed 
at the time of the inspection and the IMIS record is not updated if an injury later 
becomes a death. The BLS data for construction indicate that fatalities involving 
highway vehicles account for between 12 to 17 percent of the total construction 
fatalities and heart attacks about 8 percent (7,8,9,10). 

4.3. Results 

A summary of the construction fatality statistics from the OSHA, BLS, 

NSC and NIOSH data bases is presented in Table 4.3.1. These values were 
obtained from published data (7-10, 11, 14) and direct contact with staff from each 
organization. The NIOSH data covers only the periods 1980 to 1985, the OSHA 
data covers the period 1985 to 1989, the BLS data 1980 to 1988 and the NSC data 
1980 to 1989. 

For the period 1980 to 1985, the number of construction fatalities reported by 
BLS and NIOSH each year differ by about 20 percent. It is important to note that 
the methods used to collect the NIOSH and BLS data are distinctly different. The 
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health used a total count from death 
certificates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics obtained data from employers using a 
questionnaire sent to a random sample of employers and estimated the total count. 
The NIOSH values are higher than the BLS values. This is possibly due to the fact 
that the NIOSH data includes both public and private sector fatalities whereas BLS 
includes only private sector fatalities and NIOSH includes fatalities from firms with 
less than 11 employees. 


52 



The values reported by the NSC are over two and one-half times the values 
reported by NIOSH for the period 1980 to 1985 and the values reported by BLS for 
the period 1980 to 1988. Both NSC and NIOSH use death certificates. NSC uses 
death certificates from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Since the 
NCHS data does not include information on the injury at work item on the death 
certificate, NSC uses an estimation procedure described in Appendix C to obtain 
their values. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, on the other 
hand, uses death certificates including an indication of injury at work item provided 
by the state vital statistics agencies. Although there may be some "error" by these 
state agencies in classifying deaths by industry, it does not seem reasonable that the 
NIOSH data underestimates construction fatalities by over 200 percent. 

The OSHA fatality data in Table 4.3.1 are somewhat lower than the BLS data 
but, nevertheless, comparable in magnitude. One reason for these lower totals is 
due to the general exclusion of highway vehicle fatalities by OSHA. Using the 
percentage of total construction fatalities due to highway vehicles reported by BLS 
(17% - 1985, 12% - 1986, 16% - 1987, 17% - 1988) gives the following number of 
fatalities due to highway vehicles: 166 - 1985, 92 -1986, 126 - 1987, 139-1988. 
Adding these to the OSHA figures gives the following totals and percent difference 
from the BLS totals: 



Number of OSHA Fatalities 

Percent Difference 


(adjusted) 

from BLS Values 

1985 

895 

- 8.7% 

1986 

752 

- 2.3% 

1987 

850 

+ 7.6% 

1988 

859 

+ 3.6% 


The percent differences are small. 

The difference between the number of fatalities reported by OSHA and those 
from the NSC are comparable to those between NSC and NIOSH and BLS. It is 
unlikely that this difference of approximately 250 percent is due to underreporting of 
fatalities to OSHA. 


53 



In summary the NIOSH, BLS and OSHA data on the number of fatalities are 
comparable. These data indicate that for 1988, approximately 800 construction 
workers lost their lives due to work-related accidents. The number of fatalities 
reported by the NSC is over 250 percent higher at 2,200 construction fatalities for 


1988. 


The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides data on the causes of 
construction accidents. Data for the period 1985 to 1988 are presented in Table 
4.3.2. Similar data for the OSHA data base was presented in Table 3.4.1. Note that 
the categories used for the causes of fatalities by BLS are somewhat different than 
those used for the OSHA data in this report. There are some significant differences 
between the two data bases. The percentage of fatalities due to falls in the BLS data 
is approximately one-half of that according to the OSHA data. Results for the 
caught in/between category for the two data bases are comparable. Combining the 
BLS percentages for the industrial vehicles or equipment and the struck by objects 
other than vehicles or equipment gives results comparable to the struck by category 
in the OSHA data base. 

The distribution of fatalities by age group from the OSHA data base is 
similar to that obtained by NIOSH in an earlier study (15). 


54 



TABLE 4.2.1 


COMPARISON OF METHODOLOGIES 


Methodology 

Survey Procedure 

Population 

Limitation 

Exclusions 

Potential Problems 

OSHA 

Repotted Accidents 

Primarily Private Sector 

No Limits 

Self-employed, Workers 
Covered by Other 
Legislation, Personal 

Illness, 

Non-Safety-Related 

Cause, Highway Vehicle 
Accidents 

Reliance on External 
Repotting 

BLS 

Random Samples Survey 
Using Questionnaire 

Private Sector 

Firms with 11 Employees 
or More 

Under Age 14, Pamily 
Members, Self Employed 
Individuals, Employers 

Not Regulated by OSHA 

Employer Reporting 
Sample Survey 

NSC 

Death Certificates from 
National Center For Health 
Statistics and State Vital 
Statistics Repotting Units 

Public and Private Sector 
Self-employed 

* 

No Limits 

Heart Attacks, Homicides 
Suicides 

Variation in Collection 
Methods Within States, 
Accuracy of Estimation 
Procedures 

NIOSH 

Death Certificates From 

State Vital Statistics 
Repotting Units 

Public and Private Sector 
Self-employed 

* 

16 Years of Age or Older 

Heart Attacks or Other 
Internal Causes 

Data Accuracy, Ability 
to Identify and Retrieve 
Appropriate Death 
Certificates 


* Includes nonworkers killed at work sites. 


55 




TABLE 4.3.1 

SUMMARY OF CONSTRUCTION FATALITY STATISTIC 


(a) 1980-1985 

Number of Fatalities 



1980 

1981 

1982 

1983 

1984 

1985 

National Institute for 

Occupational Safety and Health 

1106 

1073 

947 

926 

956 

1033 

Bureau of Labor Statistics 

830 

800 

720 

670 

660 

980 

National Safety Council 

2500 

2300 

2100 

2100 

2200 

2400 


(b) 1985-1989 

Number of Fatalities 



1985 

1986 

1987 

1988 

1989 

Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration 

729 

660 

724 

720 

663 

Bureau of Labor Statistics 

980 

770 

790 

820 

* 

National Safety Council 

2400 

2300 

2100 

2200 

2100 


*Data not yet available. 


56 


























































TABLE 4.3.2 


SUMMARY OF CAUSES OF FATALITIES - 
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS DATA 


Percent of ] 

Fatalities 

Cause 

1984-85 

Avg. 

1985-86 

Avg. 

1986-87 

Avg. 

1987-88 

Avg. 

Average 

Highway Vehicles 

17 

12 

16 

18 

16 

Industrial Vehicles or Equipment 

16 

17 

13 

11 

14 

Heart Attacks 

8 

8 

6 

9 

8 

Ealls 

16 

16 

17 

21 

18 

Electrocutions 

17 

16 

12 

15 

15 

Caught In, Under, or Between Objects 
Other Than Vehicles or Equipment 

10 

17 

18 

10 

14 

Aircraft Crashes 

2 

3 

1 

1 

2 

Explosions 

2 

2 

3 

3 

2 

Struck By Objects Other Than Vehicles 
or Equipment 

3 

2 

4 

6 

4 

Assaults 


* 

* 

* 

* 

Gas Inhalation 

3 

2 

1 

2 

2 

Eires 

2 

1 

2 

2 

2 

Plant Machinery Operations 

* 

* 

1 

1 

* 

Other 

4 

2 

4 

2 

3 


*Between 0.1 and 0.5 percent. 

NOTE: Because of rounding, percentages may not add to 100 percent. 


57 





























































































CHAPTER 5 


CONCLUSIONS 

The following conclusions are based on the analysis presented in this report of the 

3,496 construction fatalities investigated by OSHA for the period 1985 to 1989: 

1. The number of construction fatalities investigated by OSHA each year 
fluctuates around 700 and there is no general trend with time of this number 
or the number of fatalities reported to the Agency (Figure 3.3.1). 

2. In some cases, there were large changes in the number of fatalities from year 
to year in the various OSHA regions. The trend in the number of fatalities in 
Region VI was continually downward, decreasing by 47 percent from 1985 
to 1989. There was no apparent trend in the number of fatalities over time 
for the other OSHA regions (Table 3.3.1). 

3. The general trend in fatality rates (number of fatalities per 100,000 workers) 
for the fatalities investigated by OSHA is downward. Region II has the 
lowest average fatality rate. Region VI has the highest for the period 1985 to 
1989 (Table 3.3.2). 

4. There is no significant difference in the number of fatalities for the various 
days of the normal 5-day work week. The percentage of fatalities occurring 
on the weekend reflect the reduced hours worked during this period (Figure 
3.3.3). 

5. Special trade contractors (SIC 17) account for 53 percent of the total 
construction fatalities; heavy construction other than building construction 
(SIC 16) accounts for 34 percent and building construction (SIC 15) 13 
percent (Figure 3.3.4). 

6. The percentage of fatalities in various age groups is within 2 percent of the 
percentage of the workforce population in that age group; older workers or 
younger workers do not experience a disproportionate share of construction 
fatalities (Figure 3.3.5). 


58 



7. The distribution of fatalities among union and nonunion worksites is similar 
to the composition of the construction workforce in terms of numbers of 
union and nonunion workers (Figure 3.3.6). 

8. The percentage of fatalities for various size construction firms, as defined by 
the number of employees employed by the firm, is similar to the 
representation of the construction workforce in terms of firm size (Figure 
3.3.8). 

9. Falls from elevation represent the largest cause, 33 percent, of all 
construction fatalities. Struck by, caught in/between and electrical shock 
represent 22 percent, 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively (Table 3.4.1). 

10. The relationship among the causes of fatalities for the State-Plan states is 
similar to that for the Federal OSHA states (Table 3.4.1). 

11. The relative contribution, of the four major causes (falls from elevation, 
struck by, caught in/between, electrical shock) to the total number of 
fatalities does not vary significantly over the 5-year period, i.e., the same 
types of fatal accidents are continuing to occur with the same relative 
frequency (Table 3.4.2, Figure 3.4.1). 

12. The percent of fatalities associated with each of the four major causes 
of fatalities varies amon the OSHA regions (Table 3.4.3). 

13. The causes of fatalities are related to construction activity. Fatalities due to 
falls, for example, occur most frequently among special trade contractors, 
whereas, caught in/between fatalities occur most frequently in heavy 
construction (Table 3.4.4). 

14. There does not appear to be a correlation between the age of the worker and 
the causes of fatalities. The distribution of each of the major causes of 
fatalities among various age groups is similar to the age distribution of the 
construction workforce (Table 3.4.5). 

15. Roofs and scaffolds are the major locations of fatalities due to falls from 
elevation (Table 3.4.6). 


59 



16. Approximately 40 percent of the fatalities due to falls from elevation 
involved falls of greater than 30 feet. Twenty-five percent of the fatalities 
occurred from falls between 11 and 20 feet and a similar percentage from 21 
to 30 feet (Figure 3.4.2). 

17. Approximately 75 percent of the fatalities due to being struck by a machine 
involve heavy construction equipment such as trucks, cranes, graders, or 
scrapers. Many of the fatalities caused by struck by material involve poor 
rigging of loads being moved or poor storage of materials (Figure 3.4.3). 

18. Seventy-nine percent of trenching fatalities occur in trenches less than 15 
feet deep. Thirty-eight percent of the fatalities occur in trenches less than 10 
feet deep (Figure 3.4.5). 

19. Seventy-four percent of the fatalities due to electric shock involve electrical 
sources with voltages exceeding 480 volts (Figure 3.4.6). 

20. Sixty-five percent of the fatalities due to electric shock involve contact with 
overhead power lines (Table 3.4.7). 

21. Fifty-three percent of the fatalities associated with contacting overhead 
power lines involve construction equipment (Table 3.4.8). 

22. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health 
Administration (OSHA) data on the number of fatalities occurring each year 
are comparable. These data indicate that for 1988, approximately 800 
construction workers lost their lives due to work-related accidents. The 
number of fatalities reported by the National Safety Council is over 250 
percent higher at 2,200 construction fatalities for 1988 

(Section 4.3). 


60 





CHAPTER 6 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

Staff from the OSHA National Office provided assistance in the preparation of this 
report. John Katalinas, Bruce Beveridge, Dorothy Hankinson and Jerry Bigsby, of the 
Office of Management Data Systems provided the information from the IMIS data base. 
Dr. Joseph DuBois from the Office of Data Analysis assisted in creating the data base for 
the analysis in this report, including extracting information from the IMIS data base, 
formatting the data and inputting into the computer. Mason Ferratt and Margaret 
Buckley, two summer interns with the Office of Constraction and Engineering spent a 
considerable amount of time extracting information from the abstracts on the OSHA 170 
form. 


The following staff from other Federal agencies contributed to the 

report: 


Dr. Nancy Stout from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and 
Health (NIOSH), Division Safety Reserch, Surveillance and Field Inventory 
Branch, Injury Surveillance Section, provided an explanation of NIOSH's 
National Traumatic Occupational Fatality Project. She also made available 
background information on fatality statistics, and NIOSH's method of 
collecting data described in Appendix D. 

Jeffrey Maurer from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 
Division of Vital Statistics, Mortality Statistics Branch, described how 
information is collected by NCHS. 

Ethel Cherry Jackson, Chief, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Safety, 
Health and Working Conditions, Branch of the Annual Survey, provided 
information on the BLS Annual Survey and supplied excellent sources for 
statistical information. 


62 



John Osborne, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Monthly 
Industry Employment Statistics, State and Average Branch, provided a 
detailed break down by state, of the construction workers in the United 
States. 

John Stinson, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Employment and 
Unemployment Statistics, Branch of Data User's and Publication Services 
Group provided age group distribution charts for the construction workforce. 

Alan E. Hoskin and Steve R. Landas, statisticians with the National Safety 
Council, provided background information and described the Council's 
methods of tabulating work fatalities presented in Appendix C. 

Charity Lancaster and Beverly Kephart, with the Office of Construction and 
Engineering, typed the report and prepared the computer graphics. 


63 



CHAPTER 7 


REFERENCES 

1 U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Field 
Operations Manual . CPL2.45B. Washington, DC, June 15, 1989. 

2. U. S. Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 
Directorate of Administrative Programs. Office of Management Data 
Systems. Integrated Management Information Systems Forms Manual , 
Washington, DC, December 29, 1989. 

3. Alan, Simpson. Understanding DBase IV . Alameda, CA, SYBEX, Inc., 

1989. 

4. Executive Office of The President. Office of Management and Budget. 
Standard Industrial Classification Manual . Washington, DC, U.S. 

Government Printing Office, 1987. 

5. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment and 
Earnings , vol. 37, no. 1. Washington, DC, January 1990. 

6. Anthony Suruda, Gordon Smith, Susan Baker. "Deaths from Trench Cave-ins 
in the Construction Industry." Journal of Occupational Medicine, vol. 30, 
no.7, pp. 552-55, July 1988. 

7. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Injuries 
and Illnesses in the United States by Industry, 1985 . 

Bulletin 2278. Washington, DC, May 1987. 

8. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Injuries 
and Illnesses in the United States by Industry, 1986 . 

Bulletin 2328. Washington, DC, May 1988. 


64 



9. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Injuries 
and Illnesses in the United States by Industry, 1987. Bulletin 2328. 
Washington, DC, May 1989. 

10. U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational 
Injuries and Illnesses in the United States by Industry. 1988 . Bulletin 2366. 
Washington, DC, August 1990. 

11. National Safety Council. Accident Facts - 1989 Edition . Chicago, IL, 

1989. 

12. National Safety Council. Standard Reporting System for Accidental 
Deaths . Bulletin T-072-78. Chicago, IL, 1978. 

13. National Safety Council. Estimating Procedures for Motor Vehicle, Work, 
Home, and Public Deaths and Death Rates . Chicago, IL 1982. 

14. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. 
Center for Disease Control. National Institute for Occupational Safety and 
Health. National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities: 1980-1986 . 
Morgantown, WV, March 1989. 

15. Catherine A. Bell, Nancy A. Stout, Thomas R. Stout, Caros S. Conroy, 
William E. Crouse, John R. Myers. "Fatal Occupational Injuries in the 
United States, 1980 through 1985." Journal of American Medical 
Association , vol. 263, no. 22, pp. 3047-3050, June 13, 1990. 

16. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, County Business 
Patterns 1985 . CP-85-1. Washington, DC, November 1987. 

17. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, County Business 
Patterns 1986 . CP-86-1. Washington, DC, October 1988. 

18. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, County Business 
Patterns 1987 . CP-87-01. Washington, DC, February 1990. 


65 



APPENDIX A 


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION 
DATA COLLECTION FORMS 


66 



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71 



APPENDIX B 


BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS METHODOLOGY 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is one of the principal data gathering 
agencies of the Federal government. The Bureau collects, processes, analyzes and 
disseminates data relating to employment, unemployment and other characteristics 
of the labor force; prices and family expenditures; wages, other worker 
compensation, and industrial relations; productivity and technological change; and 
occupational safety and health. Most of the data are collected in surveys conducted 
by the Bureau of Census (on a contract basis), or on a cooperative basis with State 
Agencies. 

Information on construction fatalities is collected by BLS as part of then- 
survey of occupational injuries and illnesses conducted in accordance with the 
provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The survey is 
conducted annually. Due to the length of time required to collect and analyze the 
data, the annual report published by BLS reflects statistics for the year 2 years prior 
to publication, i.e., the report issued in 1990 reflects data collected in 1988. Data 
are collected and tabulated by the Office of Survey Processing in cooperation with 
the regional offices of BLS and State agencies. BLS collects data from 
establishments in six states and the District of Columbia; the remaining states collect 
data from establishments through grants or cooperative agreements with BLS and 
provide these data to BLS for the calculation of National estimates. 

The survey uses a sampling procedure. Approximately 5 million 
establishments are included in the sampling frame for the survey. Because the 
survey is a Federal-State cooperative program and the data must meet the needs of 
participating State agencies, an independent sample is selected for each State. The 
sample is selected to represent all private industries in the States and Territories. 
National estimates are obtained from these samples using a weighting procedure. 

The influence of sampling errors are considered and the reliability of the survey 
estimates are presented with the BLS data. The Standard Industrial Classification 
(SIC) code is used to stratify the establishments for the survey. SIC 15-17 are used 
for 


72 



construction and the survey sample is designed to produce data at the 3-digit SIC 
level. The 1988 survey sample was composed of approximately, 280,000 sample 
units (establishments, companies) of which 47,000 were from the construction 
industry. 

Data for fatalities represent all private employers having 11 employees or 
more, except private households. Excluded from the survey are self employed 
individuals; farmers with fewer than 11 employees; employers regulated by other 
Federal safety and health laws (other than the OSH Act); and Federal, State and 
local government agencies. 

The survey is conducted by mail using the OSHA No. 200S form (7) with 
instructions for reporting the data. Original and followup mailings result in a 
response rate of approximately 94 percent. For fatalities, the survey form provides 
for reporting the number of fatality cases and a brief description of the object or 
event which caused the fatality. Fatalities due to highway vehicles, heart attacks 
and aircraft crashes are included for the construction industry in addition to those 
associated with falls, electrocution, industrial vehicles, etc. Fatality incidence rates 
per 100,000 full-time workers are calculated as: 

Rate = (N/EH) x 200,000,000 
where: N = number of fatalities. 

E H = total hours worked by all construction employees during 

the calendar year. 

200,000,000 = base for 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (working 40 
hours per week, 50 weeks per year). 


73 



APPENDIX C 


NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL METHODOLOGY 


The description of the methodology presented in this appendix was developed 
from National Safety Council (NSC) publications (11, 12) and consultations with 
staff from the Statistics Department of the NSC. 

The NSC has been collecting and disseminating accident data since the early 
1920's. Prior to 1965, NSC estimated work-related fatalities using information from 
death certificates followed by a reconciliation of their annual estimate and 
distribution of the fatalities among eight major industry divisions with estimates 
obtained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since 1965 the NSC no longer 
reconciles their estimates with BLS. Instead, they update or bring forward for 
succeeding years the 1964 values of workplace fatalities for each of the eight major 
industry divisions. The update or incremental change is determined using a 
procedure involving death certificate data from the National Center for Health 
Statistics (NCHS), a group within the U.S. Department of Health and Human 
Services and data from vital statistics reporting units within state governments. 

The first step in this updating procedure involves estimating the total number 
of work-related fatalities from the NCHS data for the year under consideration. The 
NCHS non motor vehicle accidental deaths must first be broken down into three 
classes, i.e., 1. home, 2. public, 3. workplace. This breakdown uses a procedure 
developed from studies performed by the NSC in the 1930's. Although the same 
equations are still used, the original data giving the rationale is no longer available. 
The original procedure was updated in 1953 and minor changes were made in 1985. 
The method is currently under review. 

The NSC then adds a percentage of the motor vehicle fatalities to the 
nonmotor vehicle work fatalities to obtain the total estimated work fatalities for the 
year. The percentage of the total motor vehicle fatalities attributed to the workplace 
is based on studies done in 1975 of data from state traffic authorities, state school 
bus authorities, the Census Bureau, workers' compensation organizations and life 
insurance groups. 

Since the original fatality data obtained from the NCHS is approximately 2 
years old, the estimated number of workplace fatalities determined as described 


74 



above must be updated to obtain an estimate for the current year. This is done using 
fatality data for the current and previous years obtained from state government level 
vital statistics reporting units. The NSC uses data from 25 to 30 state level units 
assuming the percentage change from the previous year to the current year for these 
state level units reflects the percentage change for the entire United States. To 
obtain the workplace fatalities for 1989, for example, the NCHS values plus the 
estimated motor vehicle fatalities for 1989 are multiplied by the change between the 

1987 and 1988 state level data and then by the change in the state level data from 

1988 to 1989. 

The number of fatalities for the year under consideration for the eight major 
industry divisions is determined using a similar procedure. The percentage change 
from the previous year is first determined for each industry division using the data 
from the 25 to 30 state level units. Again, assuming these changes reflect changes 
for the entire United States, the NSC fatality data for each industry division for the 
previous year are then multiplied by the respective changes in the state level values. 
These eight industry division estimates are then adjusted proportionally so that they 
add up to the previously calculated total number of workplace fatalities. 

The NSC does not include heart attacks, homicides and suicides as workplace 
fatalities. They do include workers 14 years of age or older if they are gainfully 
employed including unpaid family members. NSC makes no distinction based on 
number of employees but since reporting requirements vary from state to state it is 
not possible to tell which if any states are using a cutoff for reporting such as the 
BLS cutoff of 11 or more employees. The NSC estimates are published annually in 
the magazine entitled. Accident Facts . 


75 



APPENDIX D 


NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH 

METHODOLOGY 


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is 
conducting a surveillance project dealing with workplace fatalities. The study, 
referred to as the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) project is being 
done by the NIOSH Division of Safety Research. The study was designed to gather 
demographic employment and injury information for all deaths due to injuries at 
work in the United States. 

The NTOF study utilizes information from death certificates. The 52 separate 
vital statistics reporting units in the United States - one within each of the state 
governments, New York City and the District of Columbia submit copies of the 
death certificates to the NTOF project. Only death certificates for fatalities meeting 
the following criteria are included: (1) age at death - 16 years or older; (2) an 
"external" cause of death reported as immediate, underlying or contributory and (3) 
a positive response to the "injury at work” item on the certificate. Homicides and 
suicides are included. 

Information from death certificates for the 6 year period, 1980 through 1985 
have been entered in a NIOSH computer file. Industry and occupation information 
was coded from the narrative entries on the death certificates using special software 
developed by NIOSH for the NTOF project. Death certificates that either lacked 
industry or occupation information or had entries such as "housewife" or "student" 
and "self-employed" were coded into a "not classified" group. Approximately 13 
percent of all the workers killed were unclassifiable due to lack of information on 
the certificate for industry of employment. 

The NTOF project identified about 7,000 workers who die from injuries each 
year from 1980 through 1985. Construction accounted for approximately 15 percent 
of these fatalities. Analyses of the data have been presented (14, 15) including 
mortality trends and the influence of factors such as age, sex and industry group on 
fatality rates. 


76