The Fatal Four for Construction
One in five worker fatalities occurs in the construction industry according to statistics available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The leading causes of these fatalities are the so-called “Fatal Four,” falls, struck-by object accidents, electrocutions, and caught in/between accidents. In 2015, these four categories were responsible for more than half of all construction worker fatalities. Every year 602 lives could be saved by being aware of the Fatal Four.
Accidents involving falls accounted for 38.8 percent of construction worker fatalities in 2015. Fall protection is number one on the list of top cited OSHA standards for the fiscal year 2016, scaffolding was number three, and ladders number seven. All of these contribute to the risk for workers falling. Slip and fall accidents, although generally not fatal can lead to serious injury and are also common on construction sites. Fall protection is required for workers at heights of six feet and above. Guardrails, safety net systems, and personal fall and arrest systems are all accepted methods of protection against fall accidents.
Struck by Accidents
Struck by object accidents are the second of the Fatal Four accounting for 9.6 percent of fatalities. Whether a worker is struck by a falling tool or heavy machinery such as a bulldozer, the injuries sustained even when not fatal can be catastrophic and life altering. Head and spinal cord injuries are not uncommon on construction sites. Employers have a responsibility to mark off hazardous areas of construction, maintain equipment, and make sure it is used properly, and equip moving machinery with alarms and back up signals.
Electrocution caused 8.6 percent of fatalities in construction in 2015. The major sources of risk on work sites are contact with overhead or buried power lines, contact with energized sources such as live wires or defective equipment and tools, and improper use of extension and flexible cords. When electrocution is not fatal, it causes injuries like severe burns and shock that are more difficult to treat than other types of burns. Additionally, burn wounds make the body more susceptible to serious infections, which can be life threatening. There are strict OSHA standards for electrical wiring methods and systems with which employers must comply. Citations for electrical violations were on OSHA’s 2016 top 10 list.
Caught in/Between Accidents
Caught in/between accidents are the last category of the Fatal Four, accounting for 7.2 percent of fatalities. In this type of workplace accident, the worker is trapped in or between two pieces of equipment or objects on the construction site. This includes being struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structures, materials or equipment. Excavation work should be properly shored and protected to prevent a collapse that can bury workers. Heavy machinery should have safety guards so that workers cannot be pulled into moving equipment and crushed.
Proper safety precautions and training can eliminate hazards on construction sites and prevent Fatal Four fatalities and accidents.
New Brunswick Construction Accident Lawyers at Harold J. Gerr Advocate for Injured Workers
Construction is a risky business, but employers can eliminate many risks and hazards by following safe work site practices and training workers to recognize them. If you have suffered injuries in a construction accident, the New Brunswick construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help you determine your legal options. Call 877-249-4600 today for a free consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Highland Park, New Jersey we proudly serve clients throughout the state.