The “Fatal Four” Hazards in the Construction Industry
There is an inherent risk construction workers face every day at work. Construction is a dangerous field full of hazards. Despite the wide-ranging hazards construction workers face, there are four types of hazards that are responsible for the majority of fatalities in the construction industry. These four types of hazards are falls, struck-by, caught-in between, and electrocution.
Falls in Construction
In 2020, there were 351 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities (BLS data). OSHA requires employees to be tied off during work at six feet of height or greater if fall prevention measures are not present, but there are many companies that do not protect their workers from falls. The majority of employees who died due to a fall did not have any fall protection or the fall protection was inadequate.
Electrocutions in Construction
Electrocutions followed falls in the cause of fatalities in the construction industry. There are multiple causes of electrocution fatalities. The common types of electrocution fatalities include direct contact with an energized powerline, direct contact with energized equipment, contact between a boom and energized powerline, damaged equipment, and indirect contact with an energized powerline.
Struck-by incidents are responsible for almost the same number of fatalities in the construction industry as electrocutions each year. There are many struck-by hazards on every construction site that can severely injure or kill workers on any given day. Common struck-by incidents include struck-by moving equipment, struck-by falling objects, and struck-by flying debris.
The last of the fatal four hazards in the construction industry is caught-in/between incidents. OSHA defines caught-in/between hazards as injuries resulting from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object. Two examples of caught-in/between incidents include excavation cave-ins and being pulled into moving
equipment such as a conveyor.
This was just a quick overview and examples of the fatal four hazards in the construction industry. It is important that construction workers understand that these types of hazards are responsible for the majority of injuries and fatalities in their field of work. In your work, today, evaluate your work tasks and work area for these hazards.