The fatal five construction injuries in Australia

Monica Gameng   |   January 21, 2016

Each year there are hundreds of workplace accidents and dozens of workplace injury-related fatalities. The construction industry is an incredible dangerous one. And within the construction industry, there are five accident types that are particularly deadly. These have often been termed constructions 'fatal five'.  The harsh reality is that well over half of all construction site accidents last year were due to the fatal four. While we shouldn't lose sight of other workplace hazards, placing greater emphasis on improving safety in these five categories can help mitigate risk. The top five injuries that lead to fatalities in the construction industry in Australia:

The "Fatal Five"

These fatal five were responsible for 82.07% of construction worker deaths from 2003 - 2014 (357 out of 435 worker fatalities in total). Of that 82.07%:

27.82 % were from falls from a height.shutterstock_134796992.jpg

The highest number of worker fatalities in the construction industry is falls from a height (121). These fatalities account for almost one-third (121 out of 435 fatalities) in the industry, and building structure services in particular account for the highest number of incidents (31). Compared to other industries, the construction industry accounts for more than three times the numbers of fall from heights compared to the next highest industries - Agriculture, forestry & fishing (12), Transport, postal & warehousing (12) and Manufacturing (11). 

Protect your team from falling with these quick tips to enforce fall protection on-site

16.09 % were from a vehicle incidentshutterstock_266695409.jpg

70 incidents occurred between 2003-2014. Heavy and civil engineering construction recorded the highest number of fatalities from vehicle incidents (18 fatalities). Workers in this industry work alongside heavy machinery to construct roads, bridges and dams.


shutterstock_182511314.jpg14.48 % were from contact with electricity

63 incidents occurred between 2003-2014. Building installation services recorded the highest number of fatalities from contact with electricity (34 fatalities). Workers in this industry are primarily involved with plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning installation.


shutterstock_295020893.jpg11.95 %  were from being hit by moving objects

52 incidents occurred between 2003-2014. Heavy and civil engineering construction recorded the highest number of fatalities from moving objects (25 fatalities). Workers in this industry work alongside heavy machinery to construct roads, bridges and dams.

This mechanism includes vehicle collisions that occur on a public road (which are classified as a public road incidents and do not include people hit by a vehicle, which are coded to being hit by moving objects).

11.72%shutterstock_186660653.jpg were from being hit by falling objects

51 incidents occurred between 2003-2014. Land development and site preparation services recorded the highest number of fatalities from falling objects (14 fatalities). 

Which type of construction is most dangerous?

  • 17.9 % Heavy and civil engineering
  • 16.7 % Land development and site preparation services 
  • 16.3 % Building structure services 
  • 15.6 % Building installation services 

The other mechanisms of incidents include being trapped between stationary and moving objects (20), being trapped by moving machinery (18) and other (40). These statistics and further insights can be found with Safe Work Australia, under the report 'Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2014' which was released in October 2015.

Steps can be taken tomitigate the risks of these incidents and keep your job site safe. Download the free risk assessment check-list below and check all elements of your job site before sending in your team. To the best of your ability, make your work zone is a safe zone.

Author's note: Statistics sourced from Safe Work Australia's Construction Industry Profile and blog banner image from EHS Today. 

Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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