construction and maintenance work

Construction and maintenance work among the most dangerous jobs

Various jobs in these industries were found to suffer fatality rates of several times the average of 3.4 per 100,000 workers.
Monday, October 4, 2021

Various construction and maintenance work has been deemed to be among the most dangerous professions by a study conducted by business insurance provider AdvisorSmith.

The recently published report assessed the rate of fatal occupational injuries in 263 professions in the United States in 2019.

It found that numerous jobs in construction, including construction helpers, supervisors, and labourers, as well as maintenance professions such as general maintenance work, highway and grounds maintenance workers, and roofers, all ranked in the top 25 most dangerous jobs.

Each of those professions had a fatal injury rate of several times the U.S. national average of 3.4 per 100,000 workers over the time period studied.

Roofers were third on the list of most dangerous jobs, behind only logging workers and aircraft pilots and flight engineers, with a fatal injury rate of 50 per 100,000 workers, nearly 15 times the U.S. average. The most common cause of fatal accidents for roofers was falls, slips, or trips.

Construction a key concern

Numerous different construction jobs made the top 20 in the list.

Construction helpers – those workers who assist trade workers in the course of construction, such as building contractors – ranked fourth, with a rate of 40 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.

Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers placed 11th in the list with a rate of 22 fatalities per 100,000 workers, with the most common cause being exposure to harmful substances or environments such as cement or concrete chemicals.

First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers, including those who are responsible for ensuring that safety protocols are followed, ranked 13th at a rate of 20 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Their most common cause of death on the job was traffic crashes followed by falls.

19th and 20th in the list, respectively, were building site construction labourers and construction equipment operators, both with a fatality rate of 14 per 100,000. While the most common cause of death for labourers was falls, slips, or trips, equipment operators died most frequently from transportation incidents or contact with objects and equipment.

Maintenance workers also at risk

Meanwhile, maintenance workers also found themselves at risk in the study.

General maintenance and/or repair workers, including plumbers and electricians, ranked 21st with a fatality rate of 13 per 100,000, caused most frequently by contact with objects and equipment.

However, certain types of maintenance workers were more at risk.

Highway maintenance workers, for example, ranked 14th at a fatality incidence of 19 per 100,000, with the biggest threat posed by traffic collisions while on the job. Grounds maintenance workers came in just below in 15th at a rate of 18 deaths per 100,000, caused most frequently by transportation incidents and falls, slips, or trips.

Meanwhile, landscaping supervisors were number 24 on the list, with 12 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Like grounds maintenance workers, landscaping supervisors are most likely to die in car crashes.

The study notes that on-the-job deaths steadily rose from 4,836 in 2015 to 5,333 deaths in 2019, an increase of 10 per cent over the five-year period. Additionally, many of the most dangerous jobs earn average salaries that are below the May 2020 annual mean wage of US$56,310. For instance, the average maintenance worker’s salary in 2019 was $40,850, which was 27 per cent below the national average salary.


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