CPWR report examines causes of death for current, retired and former construction workers

Original article published by Safety+Health

Silver Spring, MD — Of the nearly 225,000 construction worker deaths recorded in 2020, 60% were at least 65 years old, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training.

Researchers looked at 2020 data from the National Vital Statistics System, which included all causes of death for construction workers – employed, retired or no longer working – from every state except Arizona, North Carolina, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

Findings show that, among the 224,400 deaths, the majority were non-Hispanic (88%), white (87%) and male (96%).

The leading cause of death varied by age group. For workers 16-34, the leading cause was poisoning and exposure to narcotics and hallucinogens (17%). For those 35 and older, COVID-19 was the leading cause, including nearly 15,000 workers 65 or older. Another 8,700 workers at least 65 years old died of heart disease.

“Although CPWR and others have extensively researched fatal occupational injuries, there is limited information on deaths not on the jobsite among construction workers, even though worksite exposures and tasks may result in lifetime health impacts such as cancers,” CPWR says.

The report was published in the January issue of CPWR’s Data Bulletin.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

MSHA administrator to miners and operators: Be proactive on preventing silica exposure

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication


Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — As the Mine Safety and Health Administration works toward publishing a proposed rule on respirable crystalline silica, agency administrator Chris Williamson is encouraging mine workers and operators to “take proactive measures” to assess silica-related health hazards.

The Department of Labor’s Spring 2022 regulatory agenda, published June 21, shows MSHA’s intent to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking on silica in September. Speaking during a June 28 conference call for industry stakeholders, Williamson called for forward-thinking and action within the mining community in the interim.

OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust annually. Workers can inhale silica dust during mining and other operations, including cutting, sawing, drilling or crushing materials such as rock and stone. Crystalline silica can damage lung tissue and lead to lung disease, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or incurable silicosis.

“When miners are repeatedly overexposed to silica levels that are unhealthy, that’s how you develop these diseases,” Williamson said. “Once a miner develops a form of pneumoconiosis, outside of getting a lung transplant, there’s no fix for that. It’s a progressive illness.”

In June, MSHA launched an enforcement initiative intended to increase protections against respirable crystalline silica. Measures include conducting spot inspections at coal and nonmetal mines “with a history of repeated silica overexposures,” expanding sampling at mines, and offering compliance assistance to mine operators.

MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations Patricia Silvey said during the call that the enforcement initiative is “not meant to be, ‘Gotcha!’”

“It’s not meant to be punitive,” she continued. “It’s really meant to be proactive and remedial, and try to get corrective action … before we even show up.”

A fatality number that ‘really jumps out’

MSHA reported that eight of the 15 fatal on-the-job injuries among miners to date this year have involved workers with one year or less of experience at the mine.

“Whenever we see a number like this, it really jumps out at us and we really want to make sure that training is what it needs to be,” Marcus Smith, chief of MSHA’s Accident Investigations Division, said during the call.

Agency officials discussed several related best practices, including training personnel to:

  • Perform tasks safely and recognize potential hazards.
  • Recognize hazardous highwall conditions.
  • Recognize fall hazards and use fall protection when they exist.
  • Identify hazardous roof and rib conditions.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Annual ‘Death on the Job’ report part of Workers’ Memorial Week

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: AFL-CIO

Washington — “The nation must renew its commitment to protecting workers from job injury, disease and death, and make this a high priority,” the AFL-CIO says in its annual report on the state of safety and health protections for U.S. workers.

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect is published annually during the week of Workers’ Memorial Day – observed on April 28 to honor people who have lost their lives on the job. It highlights state and federal data on work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses, as well on worker protections.

In 2020, the number of workplace deaths decreased to 4,764 from 5,333 in the previous year, while the national fatality rate dropped to 3.4 per 100,000 workers from 3.5, the report states. However, AFL-CIO points out that the total excludes the “many thousands who died from being exposed to COVID-19 at work,” in part because “employer reporting of COVID-19 cases still is mandatory only in a few states with specific standards or orders.”

Also from the report:

  • Workplace violence accounted for 705 deaths, including 392 homicides, and was the fourth leading cause of workplace deaths behind transportation incidents (1,778 deaths); slips, trips and falls (805); and contact with objects or equipment (716).
  • Black and Latino workers were at greater risk of dying on the job. The fatality rate for Blacks (3.5 per 100,000 workers) and Latinos (4.5) remains higher than the national average, with the rate for Latino workers climbing 15% over the past decade.
  • A third of the deaths involved workers 55 and older, while those 65 and older had a fatality rate of 8.6 per 100,000 workers.
  • The agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting industry had the highest fatality rate, at 21.5 per 100,000 workers. Transportation and warehousing (13.4) and mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (10.5) followed.

“Employers must meet their responsibilities to protect workers and be held accountable if they put workers in danger. Only then can the promise of safe jobs for all of America’s workers be fulfilled,” the AFL-CIO said. “There is much more work to be done to ensure the fundamental right to a safe job is a reality for all.”

In a press release recognizing Workers’ Memorial Day, Labor Secretary Mary Walsh said that although each workplace death is tragic, lives “taken in incidents that might have been prevented – had their employers followed required safety and health standards – are especially painful.”

He continued: “While we have made much progress toward safer workplaces, we must do more to ensure that employers understand and take responsibility for addressing workplace hazards and keep them from causing workplace fatalities. As our economy continues its recovery, we are determined to empower workers as well so they can recognize the hazards around them, and demand their rights to a safe workplace without fear of retaliation.”

Other prominent voices from the occupational safety and health community offered their views on Workers’ Memorial Day.

“As we commemorate Worker’s Memorial Day, we remember that behind every fatality number is a worker,” NIOSH Director John Howard writes in an agency blog post. “Someone who has family, friends, community and a life. NIOSH remains committed to protecting workers across occupations and industries, addressing threats to workers’ safety, health and well-being, and collaborating with partners to address emerging and long-standing risks.”

Chris Cain, executive director of CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, said in a press release that the observance “offers people and organizations two important opportunities: to remember those who have died and to strengthen their commitment to make sure every worker comes home safely every day.”

Cain added: “Remember that workers alone cannot create safe jobsites – it also takes the dedication of owners, contractors, managers, government officials and many others.”

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Electrical fatalities and injuries in the workplace

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: Electrical Safety Foundation International


Arlington, VA — In 2020, 126 U.S. workers suffered fatal electrical injuries, a 24% decrease from the previous year, but nonfatal electrical injuries involving days away from work increased 17% over that same span, according to a recent data analysis by the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Examining data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, ESFI found that 44% of the electrical fatalities involved workers in construction and extraction, while 20% involved those in installation, maintenance and repair. Among the 2,220 nonfatal electrical injuries involving DAFW – reported amid a 10% decrease in hours worked in 2020 – the most impacted occupations were installation, maintenance and repair (31%); service (25%); and construction and extraction (21%).

Other findings:

  • The number of electrical fatalities in the workplace marked the fewest since the data was first compiled in 2003.
  • 40% of the deaths and 13% of the injuries involved Hispanic or Latino workers.
  • 63% of the injuries occurred among workers employed by their organization for at least one year.
  • The rate of work-related electrical fatalities was highest for the mining (0.8 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) and construction industries (0.6 per 100,000 FTEs). For all industries, that rate was 0.09 per 100,000 FTEs.
  • Overall, 5.3% of all electrical incidents reported were fatal.
  • Contact with or exposure to an electric current accounted for 2.6% of the fatalities.

“By studying how and why workers are getting hurt, ESFI can create new materials to help educate all workers, whether they work regularly with electricity or not, to stay safe on the worksite to prevent these avoidable incidents,” the nonprofit organization says in a press release.

In 2019, ESFI released a series of resources with recommendations intended to help workers in nonelectrical jobs stay safe around electrical hazards.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

BLS: On-the-job deaths at lowest level in seven years

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Washington — A total of 4,764 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2020 – a 10.7% decrease from the year before and the lowest number of fatalities since 4,585 were recorded in 2013, according to Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data released Dec. 16 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Additionally, the overall rate of fatal workplace injuries decreased slightly, to 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2020 from 3.5 the previous year.

Other highlights:

  • More than 1 out of 5 workplace fatalities in 2020 involved Hispanic or Latino workers. The 1,072 deaths among this group represent 22.5% of all workplace fatalities.
  • The 541 deaths among Black workers marks a 14.7% decrease from the previous year.
  • Transportation-related fatalities fell 16.2% to 1,778 while accounting for 37.3% of all fatal work-related injuries.
  • Nearly half of fatal occupational injuries (47.4%) involved workers in transportation/material moving and construction and extraction occupations.
  • Workers in health care support occupations experienced 44 fatal injuries – a 15.8% increase from 2019.
  • Worker suicides fell to 259 in 2020 from 307 the previous year – a 15.6% decrease and the lowest total for on-the-job suicides since 2015.

BLS included additional clarification on the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “CFOI reports fatal workplace injuries only. These may include fatal workplace injuries complicated by an illness such as COVID-19.” CFOI doesn’t report illness-related information, however, including that for COVID-19.

The data release is the second of two annual BLS reports. The first, released Nov. 3, examined nonfatal injuries and illnesses among private-sector employees.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Almost 2 million lives lost annually to workplace exposures

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland — Work-related injuries and illnesses resulted in 1.9 million worker deaths worldwide in 2016, according to estimates recently released by the World Health Organization and International Labor Organization.

In a report issued Sept. 17, the organizations say the majority of the deaths were linked to cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Workplace injuries accounted for 19% of the deaths, or around 360,000.

“It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. “Our report is a wake-up call to countries and businesses to improve and protect the health and safety of workers by honoring their commitments to provide universal coverage of occupational health and safety services.”

WHO and ILO looked at 19 workplace risk factors, including long working hours and exposure to air pollution and noise, as well as ergonomic risk factors. Working long hours contributed to an estimated 750,000 deaths. Exposure to air pollution (i.e., particulate matter, fumes or gases) was linked to 450,000 deaths.

“These estimates provide important information on the work-related burden of disease,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in the release, “and this information can help to shape policies and practices to create healthier and safer workplaces. Governments, employers and workers can all take actions to reduce exposure to risk factors at the workplace. Risk factors can also be reduced or eliminated through changes in work patterns and systems. As a last resort, personal protective equipment can also help to protect workers whose jobs mean they cannot avoid exposure.”

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Study links workplace exposure to ‘disproportionately high’ rate of COVID-19 deaths among Latinos

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Image result for latinos Male  Worker facemask

Columbus, OH — Workplace exposure to COVID-19 is a substantial factor in the “disproportionately high” rate of cases and deaths among Latinos in the United States when compared with whites, results of a recent study by researchers from Ohio State University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee show.

Reviewing public and restricted data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as “individual-level information on prior health conditions and mortality from case data,” the researchers found that, as of Sept. 30, Latinos made up 41% of all recorded COVID-19 deaths in the country while making up 19% of the population.

Using CDC’s case surveillance data, the researchers found “little evidence” to support higher proportion of preexisting health conditions, unequal health care access/quality and multigenerational households as potential causes.

“Among the reported cases, Hispanics had fewer preexisting health conditions than whites, and there were no significant differences between working-age Hispanics and whites in the percentage of infections that resulted in death,” a report published in OSU’s Ohio State News states. “Hence, the researchers said, the case data is not supportive of preexisting comorbidities and/or lower quality health care being driving factors in the excess Hispanic mortality.”

The “greatest excess in cases” were among Latinos of working age – 30-59 years old.

“There was no evidence before this paper that really demonstrated that the excess cases were precisely in these working age groups,” study co-author Reanne Frank, professor of sociology at OSU, said in the report. “Particularly for frontline and essential workers, among whom Hispanics are overrepresented, COVID-19 is an occupational disease that spreads at work. Hispanics were on the front lines and they bore a disproportionate cost.”

Study co-author D. Phuong (Phoenix) Do, associate professor of public health policy and administration at UWM, noted that the findings are “applicable to any disease that is highly infectious,” adding, “if we know the source of the spread, then we can tackle it head on. We can’t stop the economy – we’ve learned that. There has to be a way to protect the workers and enforce protection.”

The study was published online April 1 in the journal Demographic Research.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Half of confined-space ag incidents last year were fatal

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

See the source image

West Lafayette, IN — At least 64 incidents involving confined spaces in the agriculture industry were documented in 2020, and half were fatal, according to an annual report recently released by Purdue University.

The 32 deaths are more than confined space fatalities reported in the mining industry (29) last year. Of the agricultural deaths, 20 involved grain entrapment. Falls, entanglement in grain-handling equipment and asphyxiation/poisoning each contributed to three deaths, while the causes of the three remaining cases were classified as “other.”

The university’s agricultural and biological engineering department has investigated and documented incidents involving grain storage and handling facilities since the 1970s. According to its records, around 60% of incidents involving agricultural confined spaces have resulted in a fatality.

The report, citing a 2013 study, notes that because many agricultural facilities aren’t covered by OSHA injury and illness reporting requirements, around 30% of cases go unreported or undocumented.

“The number of documented fatal cases continues to be higher than the number of nonfatal cases for all confined space incidents, further suggesting an underreporting of nonfatal incidents,” the report states.

Illinois, with 17, led all states with the most documented cases of agricultural confined space incidents – nonfatal and fatal. Next were Minnesota and North Dakota, each with seven.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Fatal Injury Trends in the Construction Industry

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.
Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation Flickr

Silver Spring, MD — The number of construction workers killed on the job reached its highest level in at least nine years in 2019, according to a new report from CPWR – The Center for Construction Training and Research.

Using 2011-2019 data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, researchers identified 1,102 construction worker fatalities in 2019 – a 41.1% increase from the initial year of the study period.

The increase in fatal injuries was especially pronounced among Hispanic workers, soaring 89.8% over the course of the nine-year period and far outpacing the group’s 55% rise in employment over that time.

Workers in the 45-64 age group accounted for the most fatalities (241) between 2016 and 2019. However, the 65-and-older age group had the highest rate of fatal injuries over those four years, at 22.0 per 100,000 full-time employees – more than double that of the 45-64 age group’s rate of 9.6.

Falls and struck-by, caught-in/between and electrocution hazards – known as the Construction Focus Four as part of an OSHA safety initiative – resulted in 709 deaths in 2019, or 64.3% of all fatalities in the industry that year. Fatal falls to a lower level rose to 401 in 2019 and accounted for 36.4% of all fatalities that year – a 25% jump from the previous year.

Struck-by fatalities were up 7.6% during the study period, including a 21.2% increase in struck-by fatalities involving a transport vehicle. Meanwhile, around 7 out of 10 caught-in/between fatalities involved workers being crushed in collapsing materials.

The numbers of fatal falls from roofs, ladders and scaffolds all rose during the study period. In 2019, fatal falls from roofs totaled 146 – a 28.1% increase over the previous year. CPWR advises employers to proactively address fall hazards and provide workers with sufficient protection, such as personal fall arrest systems.

The report was published in the February edition of CPWR’s Data Bulletin.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

MSHA: Deaths among coal miners reach ‘historic low’ in 2020

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Twenty-nine miners died on the job in 2020, marking the sixth straight year the annual total has remained below 30, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Jan. 13.

Although last year’s fatality total represents a 7.4% increase from the 2019 total of 27, MSHA reports that coal miners represented five of the 2020 deaths – “a historic low.”

Additionally, no seat belt-related deaths were recorded for the first time in MSHA’s 44-year history. The agency also reported all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and respirable quartz in underground coal mines, as well as dust and quartz exposure for miners at the highest risk of overexposure to respirable dust.

MSHA credits a diverse educational campaign as a contributing factor for a significant decrease in miner deaths related to powered haulage. Such fatalities represented 21% of the overall total in 2020 after accounting for about half of all fatalities in 2017 and 2018.

In 2020, MSHA “focused on improving safety in several areas, including falls from height and truck-loading operations,” administrator David Zatezalo said in a press release. “We also focused on chronic problem areas such as disproportionate accidents among contractors and inexperienced miners. In 2019, contractor deaths accounted for 41% of deaths at mines. In 2020, they were 28%.”

According to MSHA, about 230,000 miners work in approximately 11,500 metal/nonmetal mines nationwide, while around 64,000 work in about 1,000 U.S. coal mines.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.