The latest data shows the rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the roofing industry increased by 16% from the previous year and kept more roofers away from work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the total rate of injuries/illnesses for roofing contractors was around 7,100, or 3.6 per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2021. This is up from the 2020 rate of 3.3, or roughly 6,100 cases.

For comparison, the total recordable cases in the private industry is 2.7 per 100 FTE, around 2.6 million.

Details about what types of ailments roofing contractors sustained wasn’t available, but they were serious enough to keep workers from doing their jobs. Around 3,600 injuries/illnesses involved taking days away from work. This is up by 38.5% from last year’s total of 2,600.

Similarly, the amount of cases in roofing that involved job transfers or restrictions increased from 1,100 in 2020 to 1,700 in 2021.

For injuries only, roofing contractors sustained 6,900 cases. This is up from nearly 17% in 2020, where roofing industry workers sustained about 5,900 nonfatal injuries.

The BLS is reporting specific circumstances of injuries every two years beginning with the 2021-22 reference period. However, data from 2020 showed that the most common injury private industry roofing contractors sustained – roughly a quarter of all cases – was fractures (630), followed closely by sprains, strains and tears (550) and soreness or general pain (520).

When breaking out illness only, the data shows 200 total reportable cases for roofing contractors in 2021, which is a rate of 10.5 per 10,000 FTE, much lower than the overall private industry rate of 37.7. The available data for 2020 only shows information for “all other illnesses cases” for roofing contractors, which was at 100 (3.7 per 10,000 FTE).

The data doesn’t specify what these work-related illnesses were, such as whether they were respiratory, which would include COVID, per OSHA’s standards.

Construction Industry Cases

The annual occupational injuries/illnesses report shows that the construction industry’s “recordable cases” of nonfatal injuries and illnesses were down by 2.8% from the 2020 level to 169,200.

Unlike roofing, construction as a whole saw the number of nonfatal injury/illness cases that involved days away from work drop 2.3% in 2021 to 72,800 from 74,500, according to the BLS. However, roofing followed the private construction industry’s trend of the number of days of job transfer or restriction cases increasing. In 2021, the number jumped to 35,200, up 10.4% from 2020’s total of 31,900.

Regarding occupational illnesses, construction had a rate of 9.9 per 10,000 FTE, or about 6,700 cases, down 22% from 2020’s rate of 12.7, or 8,700 cases. The incidences of respiratory conditions was tracked at 3,200 (a rate of 4.7), down from 5,300 (a rate of 7.7).

Given the typically outdoor nature of construction, it’s of little surprise that the 2021 rate of respiratory illnesses was the lowest among other major industries, including manufacturing, information, and natural resources and mining.

Overall, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, a decrease of 1.8% from 2020. In 2021, the incidence rate of total recordable cases in private industry was 2.7 cases per 100 FTE workers, unchanged from 2020.