Study Finds Small Construction Firms Underreport Accident Data
A report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine entitled, “Injury Underreporting Among Small Establishments in the Construction Industry,” describes an interesting set of graphs.
One graph shows a sharp increase in employment for construction workers between 1992 and 2006. (A predictable estimate considering the housing boom during the start of the millennium.) However, another graph shows a decrease in construction accidents and fatalities during the same time period. The authors of the study, unfortunately, determined that it’s not due to a decrease in actual construction accidents and fatalities.
More Workers. Fewer Injuries?
The authors of the study examined information compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
According to the data, while only 8 percent of the U.S. workforce was engaged in construction work, almost a quarter (22 percent) of all occupational fatalities resulted from construction jobs. The study also determined that the majority (80 percent) of construction firms employed fewer than 10 employees.
Poor Record keeping, Increase in Independent Contractors
One potential reason behind the statistics points to under-reporting. The study suggests many small firms simply do not perform proper record keeping.
Many small construction firms are operated by owners who may also perform much of the actual construction work, and they may lack the staff larger companies have that carry out these administrative duties.
Additionally, smaller companies may be exempt and/or see reporting obligations as less important than meeting a customer deadline.
Another difficulty is the use of independent contractors, (often misclassified), whose injuries would not be captured by traditional data collection methods.
The results of the study reveal something important-construction injuries are likely as prevalent as they were 30 years ago. Particularly in larger more urban cities, the risk of these types of accidents is higher-including construction accidents in Chicago.