While it may not be as dangerous as working in the logging industry or as a commercial fisher, construction is still among the most dangerous jobs a person can have in the United States. Roofers, in particular, account for a high number of fatal work injuries.
The most dangerous jobs in the U.S. in 2016, based on fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are as follows:
- Logging workers
- Fishers and related fishing workers
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
- Refuse and recyclable material collectors
- Structural iron and steel workers
- Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
- Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
- First-line supervisor of construction trades and extraction workers
- Grounds maintenance workers
Roofers make the list because falls continue to be among the most common avoidable forms of worksite accidents. Roofers actually had more deaths than any of the three preceding jobs, but due to the high number of roofers working in the U.S., the rates per 100,000 workers were lower.
Causes of Workplace Deaths
The fact that roofers are so high on the list is remarkable when you look at the most common causes of deaths at work. In 2016, the six most common causes were:
- Transportation incidents
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals
- Falls, slips, and trips
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Fires and explosions
By a huge margin, transportation accidents caused far more deaths than anything else, more than double the next highest cause of fatalities. This is part of the reason why jobs such as logging and driving are so dangerous, since transportation is a major part of those industries.
It’s worth noting that the number of falls, slips, and trips increased from 2015 to 2016, but not nearly as much as violence and workplace homicides.
Workplace Fatality Rates Across the Country
Of the 5,190 deaths due to occupational injuries in 2016, Texas had the most with 545, followed by California with 376, then Florida with 309. New York was fourth with 272. That means that about 5% of ALL occupational deaths in the U.S. in 2016 happened in New York, 56 specifically in New York City. The number of overall workplace deaths in New York increased from 2015 to 2016, yet the number in the City actually dropped.
Common Risks at Construction Sites
Roofers may be more at risk than a lot of other construction workers, but everyone at a construction site is at risk. Some of the most common causes of construction injuries and fatalities include:
- Slips, trips, and falls: Serious falls are obviously a big danger for roofers, but anyone on a tall building, ladder, or scaffold faces similar dangers. Falls into trenches can be just as dangerous, as can trips and slips on stairs.
- Electric shocks: Electric shocks are a serious danger not only to electricians but to others at a jobsite. It is important for all tools and machines to be inspected and maintained so they do not electrocute workers. Power lines need to be avoided and electricity should be shut off before any wiring work begins.
- Toxic materials: Construction workers commonly come into contact with toxic and hazardous materials. This can include exposure to asbestos, silica dust, and other particulates that cause serious harm to the lungs when breathed in. Explosives and other chemicals on a job site can also create fire hazards or release toxic fumes that require respirators.
- Machinery and equipment: Large and powerful machinery at a construction site present unique but very real dangers for workers. This equipment must be used properly to ensure everyone around it remains safe. All workers on a site need to know where such machinery is when in use and behave responsibly to avoid serious, often fatal, injuries. No one without the proper training should ever be told or allowed to operate the machinery.
What This Can Mean for You
If you are a roofer or construction worker, then it is vitally important to follow safety guidelines and standards to stay safe at work. When your employer or supervisor fails to do so, however, you might be injured through no fault of your own. Consider a case we handled in which a construction worker fell due to defective scaffolding.
Had his employer properly maintained the scaffolding, he would have remained safely at work, but instead, he fell three stories and was seriously injured. These injuries led to long-term pain and suffering, including additional back injuries, all of which resulted in an $18 million verdict against the company that failed to keep him safe.
While not every case has such substantial results, all of the agony and difficulty this man suffered could have been avoided if proper safety measures were taken at a dangerous jobsite. If you suffered a similar injury at a job, give us a call. Our NY construction accident attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, have extensive experience handling these cases and have gotten very good results for injured workers. Your consultation is free. Please call (212) 986-7353 today.