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What Is OSHA’s “Fatal Four?”

Posted on November 23, 2018 in Workers' Compensation

Work accidents can lead to serious injuries. Depending on the line of work, however, you might face catastrophic harm or even the loss of a loved one. Those who work in industrial or construction fields might face a higher instance of dangerous accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) operates numerous regional offices and is tasked with keeping American workers safe through the dissemination of information. Each year the OSHA releases data from numerous studies that cover a wide array of topics. Recently, they have coined the phrase “Fatal Four” to describe the construction industry’s most dangerous types of accidents.

Construction’s “Fatal Four”

According to OSHA data, 5,190 workers were killed on the job in 2016 in the United States. This is an average of 14 occupational deaths every day. Of the worker fatalities in the private industry that year, 991 or 21.1 percent were in construction. That is to say that 1 in 5 deaths were construction workers.

More than half (63.7 percent) of these deaths can be categorized into one of four types of accidents.

  • Falls: Of the deaths recorded in 2016, 38.7 percent were related to falls in the construction industry. Whether it was a worker falling from a ladder, down a poorly constructed staircase or on a scaffolding collapse, any fall from height can lead to devastating injuries and death.
  • Struck by object: Falling objects can lead to fatal head injuries or broken necks or spines. Whether these objects are power tools falling from height, a collapsing scaffold or a collapsing structure, 9.4 percent of the construction deaths could be categorized in this area.
  • Electrocutions: Whether due to faulty materials, poor craftsmanship or working in bad weather, deadly electrocutions account for 82 of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016.
  • Caught-in/between: This category includes construction workers killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material. Seventy-two, or 7.3 percent of the construction worker fatalities fall into this category.

Eliminating the fatal four would save 631 workers’ lives in America every year. Whether this is ultimately tied to supervisor education or construction workers being provided more and better safety equipment, it is crucial that companies understand the dangers their employees face every day on the job.