By Brad Sant, senior vice president of Safety & Education, ARTBA

A total of 5,250 workers died from a work-related injury in 2018, up 2 percent from the previous year, according to the latest federal data. The fatal injury rate was unchanged in 2018 at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

Of concern to ARTBA is the number of reported deaths in the heavy and civil sector of the construction industry: 180 fatalities in 2018, compared to 152 in 2017, an 18 percent increase. This number coincides with overall national data showing a 17 percent increase in workers being struck by objects or equipment. “Struck-by” incidents are the leading cause of death and injury for workers in the transportation construction industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual Census on Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) on Dec. 17.

Overall, transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event at 2,080, accounting for 40 percent of all work-related fatalities. Unintentional overdoses due to nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol while at work increased 12 percent to 305 from 272, the sixth consecutive annual increase. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased 3 percent in 2018, due to an 11 percent increase in work-related suicides to 304 from 275.

The good news from the report comes in regard to fatal falls, slips, and trips, which decreased 11 percent to 791, after a 2017 high of 887. This decline was due to a 14 percent drop in falls to a lower level (713 to 615), the lowest total since 2013.

ARTBA is working with partner organizations and federal agencies to draw more attention to the increasing number of “struck-by” incidents killing and injuring industry workers.  These efforts include a national “Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-by Incidents” scheduled to coincide with National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 20-24, 2020.