Fatal falls and PFAS use in the construction industry: Findings from the NIOSH FACE reports

Accid Anal Prev. 2017 May;102:136-143. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.02.028. Epub 2017 Mar 11.


This study analyzed the Construction FACE Database (CFD), a quantitative database developed from reports of the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The CFD contains detailed data on 768 fatalities in the construction industry reported by NIOSH and individual states from 1982 through June 30, 2015. The results show that falls accounted for 42% (325) of the 768 fatalities included in the CFD. Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) were not available to more than half of the fall decedents (54%); nearly one in four fall decedents (23%) had access to PFAS, but were not using it at the time of the fall. Lack of access to PFAS was particularly high among residential building contractors as well as roofing, siding, and sheet metal industry sectors (∼70%). Although the findings may not represent the entire construction industry today, they do provide strong evidence in favor of fall protection requirements by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to stronger enforcement, educating employers and workers about the importance and effectiveness of fall protection is crucial for compliance and fall prevention.

Keywords: Construction industry; Fall hazards; Fall height; Fall protection; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation; Personal fall arrest systems.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality*
  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Construction Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research Report
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Young Adult