The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that roofing contractors had a work fatality rate more than 10 times the average rate of work fatalities per year in 2018.
The alarming figure comes from the BLS’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2018 released this month. According to the data, roofing fatalities accounted for 96 of the 5,250 work-related fatal injuries that occurred in 2018.
This equates to a fatal injury rate of 51.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. By comparison, the average rate across all occupations is 3.5.
To put it into perspective, other occupations with high fatal injury rates around this level include logging workers (97.6), fishers and related fishing workers (77.4), and aircraft pilots and flight engineers (58.9). For a more stark contrast, police and sheriff’s patrol officers saw a rate of 13.7 injury fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2018.
While falls remain the top most-cited violation and fatal work hazard for roofing contractors, the overall number of fatal falls, slips and trips decreased. The BLS recorded 791 incidents of fatal falls in 2018, a decrease of 11% from 2017, which had a series high of 887 fatal falls. This decrease is due to a 14% drop in falls to a lower level when compared to 2017 (615 to 713).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contributes this decline in work-related fatal falls to enforcement efforts, saying these efforts helped abate more than 7,000 fall-related hazards in the construction industry.
“OSHA will continue to use BLS data for enforcement targeting within its jurisdiction to help prevent tragedies,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “Inspections for OSHA were up, and we will work with state plans so employers and workers can find compliance assistance tools in many forms or call the agency to report unsafe working conditions. Any fatality is one too many.”
In all, the number of fatal work injuries that occurred in the United States increased by 2% from 2017’s total of 5,147. The fatal injury rate remained the same at 3.5 from 2017.