Daily Archives: February 15, 2007

The Deadly Side of Development

It’s disturbing to see how often construction workers get injured on the job. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more news of injuries and fatalities. The irony is that yesterday, while I was touring a construction site, I had a hard hat on and felt like it was uncomfortable and unnecessary. I couldn’t be any more wrong.

Here a just a few construction accident incidents in and around Miami:

50 Biscayne scaffold collapsed, 4 injured

Marina Blue worker falls 39 floors to his death–while another barely escapes death

Construction worker electrocuted to death

Worker crushed by steel scaffold

Bal Harbour collapse kills three workers

This is no surprise, but it is a stark reminder of the deadly side of development. Much acclaim and respect goes to developers, architects, and engineers, but it is the construction worker who puts his life on the line for meager pay and no respect.



Some facts regarding construction accidents:

· Accidental injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

· On average, there are 11,200 disabling accidental injuries every hour during the year.

· One out of every 10 construction workers is accidentally injured every year.

· The most common accident at construction sites is falls, either on the same level or from height. More fatalities occur from falls than any other construction activity.


Data from the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) Surveillance System indicate that electrocutions accounted for approximately 450 (7%) of the 6,400 work-related deaths from injury that occurred annually in the United States during the period 1980-89 [NIOSH 1993a]. Each year an average of 15 electrocutions were caused by contact between cranes or similar boomed vehicles and energized, overhead power lines. The actual number of workers who died from crane contact with energized power lines is higher than reported by NTOF because methods for collecting and reporting these data tend to underestimate the total number of deaths [NIOSH 1993a]. More than half of these crane-related electrocutions occurred in the construction industry.


From 1982 through 1994, NIOSH conducted 226 onsite investigations of work-related electrocutions under the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. Twenty-nine (13%) of these incidents (which resulted in 31 fatalities) involved crane contact with overhead power lines. Nearly half of the incidents occurred in the construction industry. Because the FACE investigations were conducted in only 16 states, these fatalities represent only a portion of the crane-related electrocutions during the period 1982-94.


A study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that 377 (65%) of 580 work-related electrocutions occurred in the construction industry during the period 1985-89 [OSHA 1990]. Nearly 30% (113) of these electrocutions involved cranes.






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