The steel industry has long been a key element of Pennsylvania’s economy. Historically, steel workers built nationally iconic works of industry and construction such as the Hoover Dam and the Empire State building out of Pennsylvania steel. But without the individuals who worked these projects, these great landmarks would not exist. Steel work has always included risks. Today, advanced technology has significantly impacted safety procedures. However, even with safety advances, working with steel remains an extremely hazardous career choice.

According to CNBC, being a structural steel worker is the eighth most dangerous job in America. While the numbers in the statistics below may not seem large at first glance, you must keep them in context. When considered in proportion to the number of people who work in these positions—a relatively small number in the wider scope of things, the number of fatalities is quite high.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the following:

  • There are 23.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers in this industry
  • The most common accidents are falls, slips and trips
  • There were 800 non-fatal injuries reported in 2018
  • There are approximately 98,600 workers in structural steel work at present

Why is the death toll so high?

Structural steel workers usually work from considerable heights, operating heavy and dangerous equipment. A fall or misstep on a temporary structure or a mistake with a piece of technology used to maneuver heavy materials could cause serious injury.

Unfortunately, accidents are bound to occur even in the presence of safety procedures. But if workers, supervisors and management make safety a top priority, it is possible to prevent most incidents—protecting workers from unnecessary injury.