The construction industry has been the backbone of American history for centuries, but unfortunately, continues to be one of the most dangerous areas to work. According to the United States Department of Labor, 21.4% of worker fatalities in private industry in 2015 were in construction, totaling over 900 deaths. While vehicle collisions were responsible for some of these deaths, more than half of these deaths were caused by members of what is known as the “Fatal Four” in construction industry.
The Fatal Four encompasses the four leading causes of on-site construction-related deaths, which are falls, object collisions, electrocutions, and workers getting caught-in/between objects.
By far the most prominent component of the Fatal Four is deaths related to falling, as 38.8% of workplace fatalities alone are a result of falls. Fall protection equipment is often inadequate or misused, receiving the most OSHA regulation violations out of any category in the construction industry. Scaffolding, platforms, and walkways are also cited as receiving the third highest number of OSHA violations, which also contribute to risk of injury by falling. Because of this, it is essential that safety systems such as custom platforms and safety cages are implemented to lower these risks.
Planning a Fall Rescue Strategy for your Work Site
2. Collisions with objects
The second largest member of the Fatal Four regards fatalities involving collisions with objects, composing of almost 10% of workplace fatalities. The most common form of injury in this category is due to an object being dropped from a high place. Prevention of these types of accidents is categorized as part of fall protection by OSHA.
The third leading cause of deaths is electrocutions, composing of 8.6% of total workplace fatalities. According to the Department of Labor, this is primarily due to improper electrical wiring methods, use of electrical equipment, and hazardous electrical systems design. These hazards are referenced in the 9th and 10th most common forms of OSHA regulation violations in the industry.
4. Caught-in or Compressed
The fourth member of the Fatal Four is deaths related to workers being caught-in or compressed, or crushed by equipment or objects. These deaths, often due to misuse of large machinery, contribute to 7.2% of workplace fatalities. The Department of Labor cites the control of hazardous energy and improper use of lockout / tagout as the 5th highest category of OSHA violations, which can often lead to workers to being trapped in heavy equipment.
Eliminating these Fatal Four would save over 600 American workers’ lives every year. Preventing just falls themselves would save 364 lives. SafeRack is an industry leader in fall protection and other safety systems, and will never cut corners when it comes to designing solutions that keep everyone safe.