Construction’s “Fatal Four”
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When classifying construction accidents that tend to result in death, OSHA typically refers to the “fatal four.” These are the four most common types of injuries likely to affect people working in the construction industry in the United States. If you work in this industry, here’s what you need to know about construction-related accidents involving falls, being caught between objects, electrocutions, and being struck by objects.
According to the CDC, falls account for a third of all construction-related fatalities in the United States. Falls have the potential to produce serious and potentially fatal injuries involving broken bones (fractures) and related skin and joint damage, serious head trauma, spinal injuries, and internal injuries.
Caught Between Objects
This common construction-related fatality occurs when workers are caught-in or -between hazards. Roughly 10 percent of all annual construction industry fatalities are related to injuries of this nature. Specifically, fatalities within this category, according to OSHA, could involve:
- Cave-ins (trenching)
- Getting caught in machinery or equipment
- Being crushed or compressed by rolling, shifting, or sliding objects
According to OSHA’s most recently published stats, electrocutions account for nearly 10 percent of fatalities related to construction site hazards. Electrocution occurs when the body is shocked with high voltages of electricity. Top causes of electrocutions in the construction injury include contact with electrical wiring or equipment, overheard power lines, or machinery.
According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, electrical workers experience the most electrocutions per year in the United States. Such injuries can also be fatal for the following type of construction-related workers:
- Construction laborers
- Roofing contractors
Being Struck by Objects
OSHA defines “struck by” accidents related to construction as ones that are the result of forcible contact with an object or piece of equipment. For instance, a construction worker may be struck by bricks that fall from a bucket that’s being hoisted to an upper level of a construction site. Struck-by injuries and fatalities affecting construction workers could also be related to:
- Overhead crane collapses
- Being struck by falling crane loads or dislodged crane parts
- Being struck by swinging, flying, or rolling objects
Fatalities involving the injuries discussed above are more likely to affect people working in specialty trades involving such things as foundations and structures. It’s estimated that making efforts to prevent construction’s “fatal four” could save the lives of hundreds of U.S. construction workers each year. Preventative measures include following industry-specific safety guidelines and taking appropriate precautions when doing construction-related work.