Elevators provide an essential way to navigate large buildings. In order to remain safe to use, they must be properly built and maintained, however. For many workers, constructing, servicing, and repairing elevators is a dangerous job.
According to a Quarterly Data Report by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), elevator-related construction deaths fluctuated each year from 2003-2016 but showed an overall increase in fatalities. There were 14 deaths in 2003 and 28 in 2016, but 2015 saw the highest number of deaths during that period at 37.
Between 2011-2016, there were approximately 286 elevator-related fatalities across all industries, with 145 occurring in construction. Falls to lower levels were the most prevalent causes of death, accounting for more than 50 percent of all fatalities. Among falls:
- More than 47 percent happened at more than 30 feet. About 16 percent were between 21-30 feet and 15 percent between 16-20 feet.
- More than 44 percent of fatalities caused by falls were attributed to multiple traumatic injuries and disorders. Other injuries included serious head injuries (20.7 percent), internal injuries (17.9 percent), asphyxia, strangulation, suffocation (9 percent), and electrocution (4.1 percent).
- Nearly 38 percent of falls occurred while performing assembling or dismantling tasks. Other tasks included operating heavy equipment (18.9 percent), repair or maintenance (18.2 percent), painting (6.1 percent), inspection (3 percent), handling materials (3 percent).
Other causes of elevator-related construction deaths included:
- Caught in/between objects or equipment - 25.7 percent
- Roadway incidents - 9 percent
- Struck by objects or equipment - 4.9 percent
- Electrocution - 4.9 percent
- Non-roadway incidents - 2.1 percent
Elevator installers and repairers were the most susceptible to fatal accidents - with a total of 19 deaths and a rate of 14.9 fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees.
While elevator-related construction deaths have increased from 2003-2016, nonfatal injuries have declined. In 2003, approximately 380 workers sustained nonfatal injuries. In 2016, that number was 280. The number of nonfatal injuries spiked to 920 in 2012, the highest during the entire 14-year period.
From 2011, the construction industry saw a total of 2,410 nonfatal injuries due to elevator accidents. Most of these injuries were caused by caught in/between accidents with objects and equipment (25.3 percent).
Other accidents that resulted in nonfatal injuries included:
- Falls to lower levels - 23.7 percent
- Struck by objects or equipment - 20.3 percent
- Falls on the same level - 14.1 percent
- Struck against objects or equipment - 5 percent
- Overexertion - 2.5 percent
- Roadway incidents - 1.7 percent
The most common nonfatal injuries included:
- Traumatic and disorders - 27 percent
- Bruises and contusions - 22 percent
- Fractures and broken bones - 19.1 percent
- Sprains, strains, and tears - 18.7 percent
Among construction subsectors, electrical and wiring contractors had the highest number of injuries at 780. Among all occupations, electricians had the highest number of nonfatal injuries at 700.
Roughly 46 percent of elevator-related nonfatal injuries required 31 or more days away from work to recover. Spending time away from work and accrued medical costs can be financially overwhelming for injured workers.
That's why it's important to take immediate action after a construction accident. Contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. today to get started.