Tips to Avoid OSHA‘s “Fatal Four”
August 3, 2023
Every day, construction workers face an array of job-related hazards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the “Fatal Four” are the deadliest. The top four causes of fatalities in the construction industry are falls, struck-by, caught-in/between and electrocutions. To mitigate known dangers associated with OSHA’s “Fatal Four”, employers need to take certain steps to adequately protect employees and limit preventable accidents.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) reported that in 2020, 340 workers died each day because of hazardous working conditions. That year, a total of 4,764 workers lost their lives. In addition to the fatalities, employers also reported that nearly 3.2 million employees sustained work-related illnesses and injuries. Despite what the numbers say, the AFL-CIO warns that underreporting runs rampant throughout all industries and that the true toll of work-related injuries is anywhere from 5.4 to 8.1 million per year.
“Fatal Four”: The Numbers
Falls, caught-in/between, struck-by and electrocution incidents are leading causes of death for construction workers. Here are some important “Fatal Four” statistics to know about:
- Falls: More than 36% of deaths in the workplace result from falls. Causes behind these fatalities range from unprotected siding or holes to improperly constructed working and/or walking surfaces, falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, large skyscraper areas and more. One commonality, however, that fall-related fatalities share is the failure to use proper fall protection or any fall protection whatsoever, which is the most critical part of OSHA’s fall protection requirements
- Electrocutions: Nearly 9% of construction workers die from electrocution. Hazards like exposed wiring, wet conditions while outlets are exposed and overhead and buried power lines are known risk factors for this type of potentially deadly incident
- Workers who are struck by objects while working account for slightly more than 10% of deaths. These incidents typically result from swinging, falling or misplaced objects. Struck-by incidents also include falling objects due to rigging failures, loose or shifting materials, equipment malfunctions and vehicle or equipment strikes
- Caught-in/between incidents cause approximately 2.5% of preventable occupational fatalities. These incidents involve employees getting caught in or between machines, devices or tools. Caught-in/between incidents also include trenching or excavation collapses and workers being caught in between moving or rotating equipment parts in addition to being caught in collapsing structures or materials
Every year, OSHA publishes a list of its top 10 most cited safety violations in the nation’s workplaces. For years, fall protection general requirements and fall protection training requirements, scaffolding violations, ladders, machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures have topped the organization’s list, showing just how far we still have to go when it comes to protecting workers from avoidable hazards.
OSHA’s Tips for Mitigating the “Fatal Four”
Despite just how dangerous the “Fatal Four” are, OSHA does have a variety of useful tips to instruct employers on how to keep their jobsites and employees safe. Here are just a few examples of OSHA’s recommendations:
- Ensure that workers receive adequate training in a language they easily understand
- Always provide, wear, and use personal fall arrest equipment
- Install and maintain perimeter protection
- Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers
- Use ladders and scaffolds safely
- Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects
- Wear high-visibility clothes near equipment and vehicles
- Never enter an unprotected trench or excavation five feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place; some trenches under five feet deep may also require such a system
- Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems
- Locate and identify utilities before initiating a job
- Look for overhead power lines when operating any type of machinery or equipment
- Maintain a safe distance away from power lines; learn safe distance requirements in advance
- Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated
- Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection
- Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms
When to Contact a Lawyer?
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys have decades of experience representing victims of workplace accidents. If you sustained a work-related injury, someone at our firm can help. Here are a few examples of our firm’s recoveries on behalf of injured workers in the past:
If you would like to learn more about our firm’s recoveries or speak to someone about filing a claim for your injuries, contact a representative online now who can help.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.