Construction continues to be one of the most hazardous industries for Pennsylvania workers. In 2019, the state’s workers’ compensation board received 9,906 reports of construction injury or illness, according to an annual report. The injury rate indicates construction professionals were hurt on the job more often than workers in most other industries.
But which types of injuries were the most common among construction workers? How often were they serious? And how did they happen? Here is what we know.
Fractures are overrepresented in construction
The most common injuries in the construction industry generally lined up with the overall picture. Sprains or strains (3,436 incidents) led the way, with cuts or lacerations (2,042 incidents) then contusions or bruising (1,288 incidents) not far behind.
However, construction workers were more likely to suffer broken bones than the average worker. There were 737 fractures among construction workers, totaling 7.4% of all reported injuries in the industry. Across all sectors, fractures made up just 4% of injuries.
Among construction workers, there were also 133 reported burns (from heat or a chemical), 108 incidents of occupational disease, and 26 people who tragically suffered amputation, loss of use of a limb, or the loss of an eye.
The causes of construction injuries
Once again, the most common causes of a construction injury matched the big picture: Overexertion, struck by, and struck against. But we also see some areas where construction professionals clearly face increased risk.
Falls from a higher level (786 reported injuries) made up nearly 8% of all construction injuries, which is much higher than the 2.6% reported across all industries. The rate of injuries caused by radiation or caustics, as well as by contact with electricity, were also notably higher among construction workers. Here is the full list:
- Overexertion – 2,288
- Struck by – 1,985
- Struck against – 1,312
- Bodily reaction – 913
- Fall from higher level – 786
- Fall on same level – 729
- Radiation, caustics, etc. – 532
- Unclassified – 405
- Caught in, under or between – 398
- Highway motor accident – 391
- Contact with an extreme temp – 131
- Contact with electricity – 36
Construction workers do not generally have the luxury of avoiding physically demanding tasks. This means even a seemingly minor injury can put them out of work for a short period of time. A more serious injury can threaten their livelihood and long-term financial stability. It is vital that these employees and contractors be treated fairly when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Any delay in benefits or an erroneous denial can needlessly compound the difficult situation.