In the construction industry, the “Fatal Four” (the top four deadliest types of construction accidents) account for more workplace fatalities than any other type of incident.
63.7 percent of construction industry deaths in 2016 were caused by one of four primary events.
While these types of accidents affect every industry, according to recent statistics, those who work in the construction field are much more likely to be affected.
According to OSHA, 21 percent of workplace fatalities in 2016 were in the construction industry.
That’s not even counting the number of non-fatal accidents stemming from the same four issues.
5.4 hand injuries occur each year for every 100 construction workers.
It takes well-planned safety protocols, safety training, and the strict use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help reduce these jarring numbers and save lives.
What are the Fatal Four?
The four primary workplace fatality culprits are falls, electrocutions, struck-by-object events, and caught-in/between-object events.
Unfortunately, these events claim hundreds of lives every year in the construction industry, and they also account for about 60 percent of all construction accidents — including non-fatal ones.
Eliminating the Fatal Four Would Save 631 Lives Every Year
While it is referred to as the Fatal Four, falls were by fair the most common construction fatality in 2016. Here’s how the numbers stack up out of the 991 total deaths:
- Falls: 384 (38.7%)
- Struck by Object: 93 (9.4%)
- Electrocutions: 82 (8.3%)
- Caught-in/between: 72 (7.3%)
OSHA Maps Out Safety Standards
The Fatal Four remain a significant problem, despite effective safety standards set in place by OSHA.
Standards only help when they’re followed, and some have a long history of violations.
Fall protection, for example, helps workers avoid the risk of falling from platforms and elevated work areas or into holes.
Yet, violations for improper fall protection have topped OSHA’s Top 10 Citations list since 2012.
So, what can you do to limit the number of Fatal Four construction accidents in your workplace?
These 10 standards are proven by OSHA to help save lives:
- Fall protection: 29 CFR 1926.501
- Hazard communication standard: 29 CFR 1910.1200
- Scaffolding: 29 CFR 1926.451
- Respiratory protection: 29 CFR 1910.134
- Hazardous energy control (lockout/tagout): 29 CFR 1910.147
- Powered industrial trucks: 29 CFR 1910.178
- Ladders – 29 CFR 1926.1053
- Electrical: 29 CFR 1910.305
- Machinery and Machine Guarding: 29 CFR 1910.212
- Electrical systems design: 29 CFR 1910.303
Employers and employees have an important job to do when it comes to safety:
In general, that job means following safety standards as they’re laid out.
OSHA requires employers to ensure workplace conditions are danger-free.
Here are some of the things you can do to increase the level of safety on your construction site:
Best Practices for Fall Protection:
- Choose appropriate PPE and provide it to workers at no cost
- Provide ample job hazard and safety training in clear terms
- Guard floor holes where workers might accidentally fall
- Install guard rails and toe boards around elevated platforms and other walkways
- Install guard rails around all equipment that a worker might fall into or onto
- Use harnesses, lines, nets, railings and other fall protection that’s appropriate for the job and hazard
- Keep floors clean and as dry as possible
Best Practices for Electrocution Protection:
- Provide proper electrical safety training (especially with lockout/tagout procedures) in clear language
- Select proper PPE (particularly insulated gloves) and provide it to workers at no cost
- Power down power tools, machinery and other hazardous electrical equipment when not in use
- Identify and label all electrical hazards in the workplace
Best Practices for Struck-By-Object Protection:
- Provide safety training in clear language to vehicle and machine operators
- Maintain a workplace where workers are never situated between moving objects or a moving and fixed object
- Select and provide proper PPE (such as high-visibility work gloves and clothing) when working around dangerous equipment
Best Practices to Avoid Caught-In/Between Objects:
- Provide safety training in clear language
- Maintain high awareness of moving equipment and moving parts
- Use lockout/tagout procedures if machine guards are temporarily removed for any reason
- Never wear loose clothing or long/loose hair that could get caught in machinery
- Secure machinery to prevent it from tipping over
- Never transport any unstable load
- Reinforce trenches to prevent collapse
OSHA monitors the volume and nature of workplace injuries and fatalities closely, which helps form new and more effective safety standards for the future. That’s how the Fatal Four were identified.
Creating, Maintaining, & Enforcing Safety Standards is Key:
Creating a positive environment for safety starts from the top down. Safety will save you money.
Do your part to make your construction site is improving on safety through training, hazard identification, and hazard protection.
Once you’ve eliminated and substituted whatever hazards that you can, look at incorporating Personal Protective Equipment.
We even created a blog post to help you on your quest to finding the best PPE. It’s called The PPE Bible, and it’s free!