The construction industry showed improvement last year in a key safety indicator, its rate of nonfatal jobsite injuries and illnesses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. 

But the bureau's report, released Nov. 8, also shows the number of nonfatal construction injuries and illnesses edged up marginally.

The industry’s nonfatal injury/illness rate dipped to 2.4 per 100 full-time workers, from 2.5 in 2021. The rate for 2020 also was 2.5.

There were 169,600 construction cases of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2022, up from 169,200 in the previous year. That increase is about 0.2%

Construction safety specialists see the injury/illness rate as a more important indicator than the total number of cases because the rate adjusts for increases in the total workforce.

For the 12 months ending last Dec. 31, construction employment rose by 265,000, or 3.5%.

In another safety measurement, the report says construction's injury and illness rate for cases that led to days away from work­—a measure of serious injuries and illnesses—declined last year to 1.0 per 100 full-time workers, from 1.1 in 2021.

The number of days-away-from-work injuries and illnesses also dropped 1.5% last year, to 71,700, from 72,800 in 2021.

"We are encouraged that the rates of injuries and illnesses continue their downward trend, given increase of employment in construction," Chris Trahan Cain, the North America's Building Trades Unions director of health and safety, said in an email.

"While we know not all injuries and illnesses are recorded, the trends are important to watch and suggest that employers are taking their job to provide a safe workplace seriously," Trahan, also executive director of the Center for Construction Research and Training, added. CPWR is an affiliate of the building trades unions.

Brian Turmail, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives, said in an email, "The new data offers yet another reminder that—as much as the industry is doing to improve the safety and health of the construction workforce—we still have work to do to get to a point where everyone comes home safe and healthy.

"We need to remember that this data does not reflect the significant mental health crisis taking place within the industry that is leading too many workers to take their own lives," Turmail also said.

Joe Xavier, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) senior director of health and safety, said in a statement, "While one injury is too many and Associated Builders and Contractors is committed to working with our chapters and members to intentionally and systematically drive the rate to zero, the 2022 BLS report shows that the construction industry trended in the right direction."

ABC thinks that as the industry increasingly adopts the "total human health approach" to safety, "we will see fewer injuries, illnesses and fatalities," Xavier added.

AGC, the building trades and CPWR also are involved in a variety of safety programs.