With the U.S. economy in the midst of a recession, many businesses have suffered the effects of a significant decrease in consumer spending. Real estate, historically regarded as an exceptionally good investment, has proven to be less than lucrative as home prices continue to fall in most areas of the United States. Houses sit empty in newly constructed neighborhoods and many contractors are struggling to find financial stability. Many construction workers who have previously found steady employment with a professional contractor have also struggled to find any work at all. Many skilled laborers, though highly qualified, find there is little to no demand for construction workers.
While there has been a significant decrease in the number of jobs for construction workers, there is an oddly positive bright side to this downturn. On August 20, Bloomberg news reported that deaths in the workplace fell to their lowest levels in 16 years, down 10 percent in 2008. This can most likely be attributed to the fact that there was noticeably less activity in dangerous fields such as building construction. Indeed, while deaths for construction workers dropped 20 percent from 2007, spending on construction projects fell 5 percent. According to the report, transportation accidents were still responsible for the highest number of work-related deaths.
Though construction accident deaths fell in 2008, workers should still be aware of potential safety hazards on the job site. There have still been many high profile construction accident fatalities over the past few months. Most recently, a man fell to his death in Branson, Missouri while working on a construction tank at an ethanol plant. Another man lost his life in Brooklyn, New York, while investigating incorrectly assembled scaffolding. According to a New York Times report, a section of rope disconnected, detaching the scaffolding from the fifth story wall. The worker fell to a first floor terrace and died.
Many times, construction accidents can be prevented by simple oversight and a conscientious commitment to safety by all workers on the job site. The tragic reality, however, is that safety is often not the primary concern of the workers or those in charge. Time constraints, deadlines, and a casual attitude often are contributing factors to preventable construction accidents. Workers on job sites that seem potentially dangerous should not only take extra precautions, but also notify their foreman or other job site supervisor. Vigilance regarding safety, especially in a dangerous profession such as construction, is its own reward.