Construction workers face many risks on the job site, but there are four that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has dubbed the “Fatal Four.” Even if a worker doesn’t die when one of these accidents occurs, there is a good chance that they will suffer catastrophic injuries.
Employers in this industry must be vigilant to ensure that there are proper safety protocols set for these four types of incidents — and that they are followed. Eliminating these would lead to a considerable reduction in construction worker deaths.
Approximately 38 percent of construction worker deaths are from falls. Using fall arrest devices and other safety equipment can help reduce the fall risk for workers. Additionally, safe practices must be used for ladders and scaffolding, including frequent inspections to ensure they are in good condition.
Struck by an object
Around 9 percent of fatalities in this industry are caused by a worker being struck by something. This can be an object that falls from above or that wings into the worker. Wearing a hardhat can sometimes reduce the severity of the injuries are person suffers in this type of incident. Wearing brightly colored clothing like reflective vests can also help keep workers safe.
This type of incident was a factor in approximately 8 percent of construction worker deaths. Having utility lines clearly marked, only using power tools that have undamaged cords and using lock-out, tag-out systems can help keep workers safer. Heavy equipment operators and those using ladders and other metal items should note the location of overhead power lines to avoid coming into contact with them.
Caught in or between
An estimated 7 percent of construction worker deaths come from the workers getting caught in or between something. One particular area of concern is trenches, which should always have protective systems in place. Trench shield systems, benching, shoring and sloping can all help keep workers in these excavated locations safe.
Construction workers who survive these types of incidents will often need considerable medical care. Workers’ compensation can cover the cost of this and may provide other benefits to the worker when necessary. When a worker does pass away, the family members might also turn to this program for benefits that can help with final and other expenses.