By Adam R. Young, A. Scott Hecker, James L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen
Seyfarth Synopsis: NIOSH reports in its recent Science Blog that “falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers.”
NIOSH notes that each year roughly 300–400 construction workers fall to their deaths, most often while working at heights on roofs, ladders, and scaffolds, and “[i]n 2020, out of 1,034 falls that resulted in death in the construction industry, 353 were due to falls from a height to a lower level.” The majority of fatal falls happen to roofing and finishing contractors in residential construction. Residential roofers are more than 10x more likely to die from a fall than other construction workers. Accordingly, construction falls remain a persistent and deadly safety concern. Of additional concern, from 2011–2021 the number of falls has generally increased. See Figure 1 below.
OSHA is also cognizant of this issue, as its section 29 CFR 1926.501 (Fall Protection in Residential Construction) is the most cited OSHA standard, by far. This graphic illustrates the dangers.
For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.