Work in the construction industry involves about a threefold increased risk of fatal injury compared with all industries combined. The purpose of this study was to identify potential risk factors for fatal injury in the construction industry in New Jersey. Multiple data sources including death certificates, medical examiner reports, Occupational Safety and Health fatality files, and Workers' Compensation reports were used to identify 200 construction-related fatalities in New Jersey during the years 1983 to 1989. All deaths were in men. The death rate was 14.5 per 100,000 employed person-years over the study period. Death rates tended to diminish with increasing age after 34 until age 65 when the death rate was the highest (27.7). Death rates were higher for Hispanics (34.8) and African-Americans (24) than whites (10.6). Ironworkers and roofers had highest rates (109.0 and 56.2, respectively) among specific occupational groups within the construction industry. The leading cause of death was falls (46%). These data suggest that intervention efforts directed toward workers at heights is needed. Further research is warranted to elucidate the factors contributing to the elevated fatality rate of workers over age 65, and to Hispanic and African-American workers.
©1993 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine