Just how common are construction related injuries? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year, of the 4,679 Occupational related injuries 879 of them were construction related. In other words, out of every industry — from manufacturing to mining — construction accounted for more than 18% of all fatal injuries.
Breaking these number down even further, the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites was falls, followed by struck-by-object, electrocution, and caught-in-between. Commonly referred to as “The Fatal Four,” these hazards are responsible for 3 out of 5 fatal accidents:
A Closer Look at The Fatal Four
The harsh reality is that well over half of all construction site accidents in 2014 were due to The Fatal Four. While we must never lose sight of other workplace hazards, placing greater emphasis on improving safety in these four categories can help to mitigate risk:
Falls: Accounting for over 35% of the total deaths in the construction industry, OSHA predicts that better fall protection could save more than 400 lives every year.
What you can do to improve safety: Wall openings, floor holes, ladders, scaffolding, roofing, and unprotected edges are a few of the hazards that contribute to a worker’s fatal fall. Studies have shown that using guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers and restraint systems greatly reduce the risk of injury and death.
Electrocution: The second hazard in “The Fatal Four” is electrocution. Power lines, inadequate grounding, improper use of equipment, and faulty power cords are some of the most common hazards associated with electrocution at construction sites.
What you can do to improve safety: Workers should always use protective equipment when working with electrical hazards. In order to avoid accidents, employers should create a comprehensive list of all electrical hazards on site and post warning signs to alert workers of electrical risks.
Struck-by-object: Almost 10% of fatal construction injuries result from a worker being struck by a flying, falling, swinging or rolling object.
What you can do to improve safety: Vehicles, falling loads, and machinery can result in fatal struck-by accidents. To decrease the chance of accidents, training workers on the importance of never positioning themselves between moving and fixed objects and always wearing high-visibility clothes.
Caught-in-between: Caught-in-between hazards include trench or excavation collapses, which may cause crushing injuries, being crushed between rolling, sliding or shifting objects, and being caught in machinery.
What you can do to improve safety: Although it seems like common sense to never place yourself between a piece of heavy equipment and an immovable object, when concentrating on the job at hand, workers too often find themselves in unexpected danger. Just like the struck-by-accidents, caught-in-between hazards can be prevented through the continual reinforcement of safety standards.
Remember, one of the biggest ways to prevent an accident is through continual reinforcement of safety awareness. Employers can help prevent injuries and deaths by frequently reminding workers of OSHA guidelines and posting signs that stress common safety. For more information, Download a Copy of the OSHA Construction Focus Four Training Packet.
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