Construction fatalities up in 2019: BLS

Occupational fatalities increased 17% in Colorado
(Photo: Korn Vitthayanukarun, Dreamstime)

Construction had the sad distinction of leading the most dangerous industries by number of fatal injuries in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction deaths increased 5% to 1,061, followed by transportation and warehousing at 913 deaths, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting at 573.

Related: Workplace injury rates stagnant, fatalities climb, BLS finds

Colorado was among the states with the greatest increase in fatal injuries. Fatalities rose 17% statewide, from 72 in 2018 to 84 last year.

Total workplace fatalities increased 2% in 2019, according to BLS, from 5,250 to 5,333. The fatal work injury rate was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers, unchanged from 2018.

BLS noted that this is the largest annual increase in total workplace deaths since 2007, and that “a worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury in 2019.”

Transportation incidents were the leading cause of death, up 2% from 2018 to 2,122 deaths, and more than twice as common as falls, slips and trips. However, deaths due to falls, slips and trips saw a bigger increase, up 11% in 2019 to 880 deaths.

Deaths caused by substance are an increasing problem. “Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol increased for the seventh consecutive year to 313 in 2019,” according to BLS.

Nonfatal injuries in 2019 were unchanged from the previous two years at 2.8 million, BLS reported. The construction industry recorded 2.8 nonfatal injuries for every 100 full-time workers, including 1.7% of cases that led to a worker missing a day or having a job restriction or transfer.

Related: Right to return—Getting back to work after an injury

The incidence rate was slightly higher among residential construction workers: three cases for every 100 workers.

Manufacturing was the leading industry for nonfatal work-related illnesses and injuries, and the only one to see a significant change in the injury rate from the previous year — falling from 3.4 injuries per 100 full-time workers to 3.3.

Danielle Andrus

Danielle Andrus is the managing editor of Colorado Builder. She can be reached at [email protected].

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