Construction Accidents Topped List of Most Common Workplace Injuries Last Year: OSHA

According to data collected by government safety officials, there were more than 10,000 severe work-related injuries last year, about a quarter of which involved amputations, which researchers indicate may have been prevented if employers had taken necessary precautions. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new report (PDF) on March 17, analyzing the work injury data collected during the 2015 calendar year.

At least 10,388 severe workplace injuries were identified, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations, with most of the injuries stemming from construction and manufacturing jobs.

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On January 1, 2015, OSHA implemented a new reporting program, known as “Rapid Response Investigation” (RRI), which requires employers in states that are overseen by the federal safety regulator to report any work-related injury resulting in amputation, in-patient hospitalization, or loss of eye within 24 hours of the incident’s occurrence. The previously mandated rule for employers to report work-place related fatalities within eight hours was unchanged.

The reporting program allows for a faster response time for OSHA officials to understand the reasoning for the incidents and how to better prevent similar injuries from occurring.

The work-related injury data collected over 2015 indicates that OSHA has been able to respond and coordinate safety programs with employers in a quicker fashion, but there are still an estimated 30 severe workplace injuries a day.

OSHA reports that most of the severe injuries were well-understood hazards that would have been easily preventable in straight-forward, cost effective ways by providing fall protections, installing guards around machinery, or clearly marking and labeling hazardous materials.

The injury data revealed that of the 7,636 hospitalization reports, manufacturing plants accounted for 26%, the construction trade contributed to 19%, while transportation and warehousing jobs caused 11% of incidents. Of the top 25 industry groups reporting severe injuries, the construction industry accounted for the top four contributing groups.

At the top of the list were foundation, structure, and building contractors accounting for 391 incidents, followed by building equipment contractors, support activities for mining and nonresidential building construction that contributed a cumulative total of 937 severe injuries.

The 2,644 amputations occurred mostly in the manufacturing industry, accounting for 57%. OSHA’s data indicated the construction trade was responsible for 10% of amputations while several other industries including oil and gas extraction, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing all ranged between 4% and 5% of incidents.

According to OSHA Administrator, David Michaels, the 2015 data is highly under-reported due to small and mid-sized businesses not being aware of the new reporting requirements or choosing to not be compliant with the new regulations. Michael’s reports and anticipated 50% or more of the severe injury reports happening on the job are being withheld from OSHA’s RRI program. Michaels stated the 50% theory is backed by several factors including gaps in injury claim numbers that are provided to OSHA by state workers’ compensation claims when compared to actual injury reports recorded by RRI.


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