Why construction is so dangerous

According to the law firm Scudder & Seguin, North Carolina had 48 fatalities at work last year, and 33 percent of those workers were construction workers. Those numbers match up with national numbers as well. Construction work is dangerous work.

But why is it so dangerous?

The truth is, every part of a construction worker’s job has some hazard. While many jobs may have parts which can be dangerous (delivery drivers can be held up late at night at the wrong house, for instance), almost everything at a construction site can cause harm.

The numbers involving construction deaths nationally prove this. The largest percentage of accidents involved falls. While it might be hoped that construction workers would have safety equipment in place to avoid deaths from something as simple as falls, this does not appear to be the case. After falls, transportation is the most likely way a construction worker could be injured. This makes quite a bit of sense considering the heavy duty machines required in the field. If you have ever driven passed construction workers building a road, you have seen any number of massive machines, from cranes to steamrollers to bulldozers. Should anyone on a site on a particular day not be particularly careful, it is easy to imagine what might happen.

After falls and machines, it is contacted with objects that pose the greatest risk. Though this sort of thing is often lampooned in movies, a construction worker running into a beam or having a brick fall on his or her head could, in fact, be deadly. With so many heavy objects about on a construction site, it’s again easy to imagine how one of them could fall from a height and injure someone. Just think of all the bricks, stones, steel, and wood needed to build a house. When much of that material has to be hoisted twenty or thirty feet in the air, any minor slip could be deadly.

Following that, there’s exposure to harmful substances. Again, put yourself on a construction site and look around. There would be all sorts of chemicals required for different parts of the job. Overexposure to these chemicals through a lack of caution could obviously lead to some horrible consequences.

Finally, the last major category is fighting at work. While this could happen anywhere, it seems there is something about the construction industry that makes this more likely than in more workplaces.

Looking at this list, it’s clear that there are very few parts of a construction worker’s job that don’t pose a great risk. For a job that involves being up high, using heavy machinery, installing heavy materials, and using hazardous chemicals, it’s easy to see why it is the deadliest profession in America.

For that reason, we ought to be grateful to those who build our houses and our roads. Their job is a dangerous one, but a necessary one.