Workplace Risks in the Construction Industry

Every workplace is subject to some risk. However, certain industries are more dangerous than others. Construction is one example.

Accident Statistics

With approximately 9 million employees, the construction industry is one of America’s largest industries. A 2012 report by the Center for Construction Research and Training outlined 849 deaths among construction workers. This statistic is concerning because it represents a significant increase in fatalities by almost 9 percent compared to the previous year. These deaths were mostly attributable to residential roofing contractors, residential construction workers, self-employed workers, and workers aged 45 and older.

Common Causes

There are many reasons why construction accidents may occur. Among the most common causes of injuries to construction workers are:


Most construction-related injuries result from falls. Many workers in construction must work at heights. Painting workers must reach the tops of walls and exteriors of homes. Electricians must reach light sources. Framers must be able attach framing pieces together. Scaffolding falls can also cause many injuries. The scaffolds provide temporary access to construction workers at heights normally impossible to reach. This is because scaffolding is used by nearly 2.3 million construction workers on a daily basis.


About 33 percent of injuries sustained by construction workers are caused by cuts and lacerations. Construction workers may come in contact with sharp edges or other sharp objects because they work with many materials.

Being Struck By Objects

A staggering 8 percent of accidents involving construction workers are caused by being struck with objects. A tool or an item could fall from a belt, or it may fall from one floor below.

Tool-related injuries

About 16 percent of all injuries sustained by construction workers are caused by power tools or hand tools. These injuries can be caused by tools that are not up to date or lack proper safety guards. These injuries can also be caused by improper training or a lack of explanation about how to use the tools.

Heat Injuries

Construction workers often work outside for long hours. They are more vulnerable to heat-related injuries such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. These conditions can be minimized by taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day.


Overexertion is responsible for 8 percent of all construction worker injuries. Workers may be overexerted if they lift items that are too heavy. Workers may not be able to lift heavy loads properly or may not have the skills necessary.

Safety Risks

These safety risks have been the subject of studies. One study found that approximately one third of residential construction workers did not have written safety policies. This was cited by workers as a reason for the high mortality and injury rates. The study found that 48 percent of those surveyed claimed their employers provided safety information on a weekly or daily basis.

Many of the injuries suffered at construction sites are due to a lack of protective equipment. Another contributing factor is dangerous equipment and improper use of equipment. Ladder fall injuries account for approximately 81 percent of all fall injuries that end up in emergency rooms. Tripping hazards such as loose cords and uneven flooring can also cause slips and falls. Falls from high places can be caused by scaffolding that is not properly maintained.

If items aren’t kept in a safe place or if cords are tangled, it is possible to be struck by an object. Sometimes, defective equipment can also be to blame for injuries sustained by construction workers.


Workers’ compensation benefits may be available to construction workers who are injured on the job. These benefits cover medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, and partial wage replacement.

Sometimes, the person responsible for injuries might be a third party. This is not necessarily the employer of the worker in question. Contractors may employ subcontractors to help the worker injured. A worker might be able to sue the contractor, even though he/she would be prohibited from bringing a suit against his/her employer.

An attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation can explain to injured workers the rights they have. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine who is responsible for the accident, and offer advice on how to get damages.

Updated 01/18/22