As of 2014, construction accounted for 1 of every 5 fatal work injuries and the Fatal Four consisted of 60% of those deaths. This means 12% of workplace fatalities come from the Fatal Four! Eliminating the Fatal Four could save nearly 545 lives a year. The Fatal Four consist of fatalities by falling hazards, electrical hazards, struck-by hazards, and caught-in-between hazards. Throughout this article I will discuss the problems and solutions for each type of work fatality.
Falling fatalities resulted in 39.9% of deaths in construction in 2014. Sadly, this number has gone up since 2012 when it only consisted of 36% of deaths in the construction industry. These injuries and fatalities come from wall openings, floor holes, ladders, scaffolding, roofing, and unprotected edges, among other things. To improve safety in these areas, studies show we need to implement guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and restraint systems. These hazards can also be avoided by planning ahead, providing the proper and safe equipment, and training employees to properly use the equipment.
Electrical fatalities resulted in 8.2% of deaths in construction in 2014 compared to 9% in 2012. Powerlines, inadequate grounding, improper use of equipment, and faulty power cords are some of the causes of electoral related injury and death cases. To protect themselves, workers need to be sure to use protective equipment, such as goggles and gloves, and list all electrical hazards as well as warning signs throughout the job site.
Struck-by fatalities occur when an employee is struck by flying, falling, swinging, or rolling objects. These fatalities made up 8.1% of construction fatalities in 2014, which was an improvement from 10% in 2012. They need to be aware of vehicles around them, falling loads, and machinery that can move in order to stay out of harm’s way. They also need to make sure they have the proper training on the importance of never positioning themselves between moving and fixed objects and to always wear their protective gear, such as their hard hat and goggles.
Last of the Fatal Four is Caught In Between fatalities. These tragedies, like fall fatalities, have cause more deaths from 2012 to 2014. In 2012, 2% of construction fatalities were cause from being caught between objects, compared to 4.3% in 2014. These fatalities can occur in trenches, when an excavation collapses, caves caving in, or being caught in machinery. The best way to ensure instances like this don’t occur on your jobsite is to make sure your workers are properly trained and continual reinforcement of the safety standards. Some precautions to take on site include placing blocked behind each wheel of a stationary vehicle, staying outside of barricades, and using the “lock-out, tag-out” protocol.
Construction workers need to be sure they are following all safety protocols and utilizing all the training they should be receiving. The number of lives being lost during construction work has increased 3% from 2012 to 2014. If you work on a construction site, be sure you or the site supervisor is frequently reminding workers of OSHA guidelines and posting signs that reiterate common safety standards.