The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Monday, November 21, 2011

Latest injury rates show improvement

By The Building Tradesman

Latest injury rates show improvement

The bad, and rather shocking news: 40 percent of full time U.S. construction workers were injured on the job in 2010.

Furthermore, reports the Center to Protect Workers Rights last month, “nearly all construction workers will experience one or more work-related injuries or illnesses over a lifetime,”

The better news: That 40 percent number represents a 7 percent drop from 2009. And only 1.5 of those injured workers required days away from work.

The Laborers Health and Safety Fund of North American, which reported the federal government injury numbers, said several factors contributed to the decline:

  • A heightened emphasis on safety.
  • Stronger OSHA enforcement
  • The dramatic reduction in work opportunities (consistent 16-20 percent unemployment)

“Feeling the pressure of rapidly escalating workers’s compensation rates, contractors – especially smaller companies – gradually responded with more attention to jobsite safety,” the Laborers reported. “In the last two years of the Bush Administration (2007-2008), this added attention produced lowered rates. That trend has continued during the first two years of the Obama Administration.”

The Laborers said under Obama appointee Dr. David Michaels, OSHA has “adopted a more aggressive enforcement stance and announced plans for several new standards. While the standards agenda has stalled in the face of the nation’s general political polarization, OSHA’s determined enforcement efforts have further spurred industry awareness and responsiveness, adding to the improved data for 2009 and 2010.”

Laborers Health and Safety Co-Chairman and LIUNA General Secretary-Treasurer Armand E. Sabitoni said “there are real workers behind the data, thousands of construction workers suffering serious injuries that can devastate their lives, families and careers. We are inspired to push even harder for improvements that further reduce our industry’s injury and illness rate.”