According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one in five worker deaths in 2014 occurred in the construction industry. Of those fatalities, 60 percent were caused by just four types of accidents. These accidents are known as the “fatal four” of the construction industry: falls, electrocutions, struck by object, and caught between. By understanding the occurrence risks of these accidents and safety measures that can be taken to prevent them, employers and workers can help to reduce these fatalities each year.
Preventing Construction's "Fatal Four"
Despite the fact that these types of accidents are known to be the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites, they continue to happen. Construction site owners and contractors, among other responsible parties, have a legal duty to provide safe working conditions for employees under their supervision.
The following tips from OSHA remind people in charge of how they can ensure a safe working environment, while also informing workers of the protections they should expect when undertaking dangerous tasks on a construction site:
- Falls. In 2014, 40 percent of worker deaths on construction sites were caused by falls, often through wall openings, floor holes, ladders, scaffolding, roofing, and unprotected edges. OSHA recommends using guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and restraint systems in order to reduce the risk of injury and death from falls.
- Electrocutions. Statistics indicate that in 2014, 74 construction workers were electrocuted on the job. Power lines, inadequate grounding, using equipment improperly, and faulty power cords all contributed to electrocutions on construction sites. Using protective equipment while working with electrical hazards can reduce worker injury and death. Site managers should compile a comprehensive list of all potential electrical hazards and post warning signs to warn workers.
- Struck by object. About 8 percent of fatal construction injuries result from a worker being struck by a flying, falling, swinging, or rolling object, including vehicles, falling loads, and machinery. High visibility clothing, encouraging alertness, and training workers to never position themselves between a moving and a fixed object can help reduce these kinds of accidents.
- Caught between. These accidents include trench or excavation collapses; rolling, sliding or shifting objects; and being caught in machinery. These accidents often result in fatal crushing injuries. When workers are concentrating on the job at hand, they may also be in danger. Workers should never come between a piece of heavy equipment and a wall or other immovable object. Caught between accidents can be prevented through monitoring, alertness, and the continual reinforcement of safety standards.
OSHA Provides Common-Sense Guidelines
Many workplaces—especially construction sites, which are by nature changing every day and temporary—fail to follow the basic OSHA requirements for safety. These requirements include the following:
- Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
- Keep floors in work areas clean and, so far as possible, in dry condition.
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
- Train workers about job hazards in a language they can understand.
Workers are also offered protections from retaliation when they report unsafe working conditions to OSHA.
We Protect Construction Workers When Employers Do Not
We expect people in charge of safety on a construction site to make it a priority to protect workers from hazards that can lead to fatal accidents, but this is unfortunately not always the case. When you're injured on the job or a loved one is killed, you may need to take legal action to secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries or loss. We help construction workers in Kansas and Missouri protect their rights. Call our office today to see how we can help you recover what you have lost.