Construction workers account for a disproportionately large number of occupational fatalities. A small percentage of these deaths is attributable to poisoning. Risk factors for such deaths using national data have not been reported previously. Construction poisoning fatalities from 1990 to 1999 in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Integrated Management and Information System data set were analyzed. Risk and risk factors were determined using Bureau of Labor Statistics and census data. Eighty-seven poisoning deaths of construction workers are characterized, all attributable to toxic inhalation. Cellular and simple asphyxiants accounted for the largest numbers of fatalities. The majority of these deaths occurred in confined spaces. Water, sewer, and utility line workers are at increased risk for poisoning fatality. Toxic inhalation fatalities in the construction industry are preventable. Extending the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's confined space standard could save lives, particularly among water, sewer, and utility line industry workers.
Toxic inhalation fatalities of U.S. construction workers, 1990 to 1999