Construction workers face four primary hazards that lead to more fatalities than all others. Reducing their risks can help to greatly cut down on the number of workers who are killed at work.
These four hazards are so deadly that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has dubbed them the “Fatal Four Hazards.” They include falls, struck by objects, electrocutions, and caught in or between issues.
Falling is by far the deadliest type of construction hazard. It accounted for 39.2 percent of all construction deaths in 2017, which is the most recent year for which data is available. There are some very basic ways that employers can reduce the risk of falls. Using safety harnesses, railing and toe boards are all possible methods. Training workers to watch for fall hazards and making sure that all equipment used to hold employees above ground is in good condition can also help.
Protocol for working above ground must be set. For example, workers should know that they have to have three points of contact when they are climbing a ladder. This means that only one arm or one leg is away from the ladder at a time.
Struck by objects
Workers being struck by objects accounted for 8.2 percent of fatalities in the industry in 2017. While this is a much less common accident than falling, it must still be addressed. Workers should know that they aren’t allowed to stand under a suspended load. Any items that are used above ground level should be secured. Protective guards and netting can often help to prevent this type of accident. It is also the reason why wearing a hard hat is imperative at the construction site.
In 2017, electrocution accounted for 7.3 percent of all fatalities at construction sites. Proper training is the best way for employers to prevent this from occurring. Personal protective equipment is important to prevent this. Workers should be vigilant about watching for overhead powerlines when they work on heavy equipment or with any metal objects. Using a lock out-tag out process can also help workers to avoid electrical components that have damaged cords or parts.
Caught in or between
Only 5.1 percent of construction fatalities were attributed to being caught in or between something. This category includes workers who were compressed by equipment, those who were crushed by a building or material collapse, and other similar situations. Instructions should be given to employees who work on or near equipment that has moving parts to reduce the risk of an injury. All employees should be forbidden from having loose clothing or jewelry that can become entangled in a machine. Even long hair should be contained so it doesn’t get caught.
Workers who are involved in any of these types of accidents and survive can use workers’ compensation to cover the bills and handle other factors of the incident. The family members of a worker who passes away from these hazards may also have legal actions they can take.