Safety concerns related to modular/prefabricated building construction

Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot. 2017 Mar;24(1):10-23. doi: 10.1080/17457300.2015.1047865. Epub 2015 Jun 24.


The US construction industry annually experiences a relatively high rate of fatalities and injuries; therefore, improving safety practices should be considered a top priority for this industry. Modular/prefabricated building construction is a construction strategy that involves manufacturing of the whole building or some of its components off-site. This research focuses on the safety performance of the modular/prefabricated building construction sector during both manufacturing and on-site processes. This safety evaluation can serve as the starting point for improving the safety performance of this sector. Research was conducted based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated accidents. The study found 125 accidents related to modular/prefabricated building construction. The details of each accident were closely examined to identify the types of injury and underlying causes. Out of 125 accidents, there were 48 fatalities (38.4%), 63 hospitalized injuries (50.4%), and 14 non-hospitalized injuries (11.2%). It was found that, the most common type of injury in modular/prefabricated construction was 'fracture', and the most common cause of accidents was 'fall'. The most frequent cause of cause (underlying and root cause) was 'unstable structure'. In this research, the accidents were also examined in terms of corresponding location, occupation, equipment as well as activities during which the accidents occurred. For improving safety records of the modular/prefabricated construction sector, this study recommends that future research be conducted on stabilizing structures during their lifting, storing, and permanent installation, securing fall protection systems during on-site assembly of components while working from heights, and developing training programmes and standards focused on modular/prefabricated construction.

Keywords: modular construction; prefabrication; safety cases; safety performance.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Construction Industry*
  • Construction Materials / adverse effects
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology
  • Occupational Injuries / mortality
  • United States / epidemiology