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workers compensation disability

The “Fatal Four” Construction Accidents

In 2017, one in five fatalities in private industry occurred in construction. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified construction’s “Fatal Four” categories:

  • Falls
  • Struck-by Hazards
  • Electrocutions
  • Caught-in/between

OSHA estimates that “eliminating the Fatal Four would save 582 workers’ lives in America each year.”

Few other industries place as much emphasis on safety as construction, but much can be done to further reduce the rates of worker injuries and fatalities. OSHA suggests the following precautionary measures:

Fall Prevention

In 2017, there were 366 fatal falls to a lower level out of 971 construction fatalities (BLS data). These deaths are preventable. OSHA suggests the following:

1) PLAN ahead to get the job done safely

When working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

2) PROVIDE the right equipment

Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.

Use the right ladder or scaffold to get the job done safely. For roof work, if workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect it for safe use.

3) TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely

Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job. See educational materials and resources page for posters, factsheets, and other training materials.

Further information can be found here:


Struck-by Hazards

OSHA has an excellent information guide on common struck-by hazards, ways to protect themselves, and what employers must do to protect workers from struck-by hazards. https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/construction/focus_four/struckby/struckby_ig.pdf


OSHA has provided a guide that will enable workers to recognize major electrocution hazards at construction worksites.https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/construction/focus_four/electrocution/electr_ig.pdf

Caught In/Between

OSHA’s guide to recognizing common caught-in or -between hazards at construction worksites can be found here:https://www.osha.gov/dte/outreach/construction/focus_four/caught/caught_iorb_ig.pdf

Know Your Rights

According to OSHA, “Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. If you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation. You also have the right to:

  • Be trained in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls
  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector
  • Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
  • See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
  • Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace”

Ideally, workplace injuries will be prevented by careful observance of safety regulations. In the event of an injury, we are here to help. Call us at 714-547-5025 to determine your rights after a construction accident.

The consultation is free and confidential.

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