Modular Building Institute

Modular Construction:
A Safe Alternative to Stick Built



With 721 construction deaths last year, safety is a critical issue for builders. Of those fatalities, 251 resulted from falls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When using modular construction – the process of building a facility in sections, offsite in a factory – the risk of a fall from a significant height is drastically reduced.

New York City developer Forest City Ratner Companies will put this fact into practice when it breaks ground in December on the tallest modular building in the world, a 32-story modular residential tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Those employees will have a substantially lower chance of having an injury from working on high-rise scaffolding or frames.

AEC professionals agree that modular is a safe alternative to traditional construction. A McGraw Hill Smart Market Report on Prefabrication and Modularization indicates that, based on an internet survey of hundreds in the AEC community, 58 percent of current modular users say that increased project safety is a key factor driving them to use modular construction. Forty-nine percent of modular non-users indicate that they would be likely to turn to modular because of a safer construction site.

Modular boasts additional safety merits throughout the building process:


  • Workers are not exposed to harsh weather and elements.
  • Safety measures can be strictly imposed and are easy to monitor in a factory setting.
  • The factory employs local workers who are accustomed to the tasks they perform as well as the factory environment.

Installation and Site Work

  • Fewer contractors and fewer deliveries reduce site disruption.
  • Less time spent is at the construction site (30-50 percent reduction).
  • Fewer workers are needed onsite.

End Product

Safety is also an earmark of the end product of modular construction. A government report on building performance after Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 says that relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing developments.

“The module-to-module combination of the units appears to have provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing. This was evident in both the transverse and longitudinal directions of the modular buildings,” the report notes.

In addition, because modular buildings – both commercial and residential –must be built and inspected to the local building code, traditional standards cannot be compromised.

For more information on this smart construction method, please visit the “Why Build Modular?” section of our website.


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