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Understanding OSHA’s ‘Fatal Four’ Construction Injuries

January 27, 2021Workplace Accidents

Despite the fact that accidents and resulting injuries can occur in nearly any workplace, some industries are, understandably, more dangerous than others. This is the case in the construction industry – one of the most active industries in Texas. Dealing with large machines like bulldozers and jackhammers and working from vast heights create an environment where construction injuries are only a few missteps away. Because of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has delineated four of the most deadly causes of construction industry accidents as the ‘fatal four.’

OSHA’s ‘Fatal Four’

Founded in 1971, OSHA has worked to establish safe and healthy workplace environments across multiple industries, including construction. Unfortunately, despite OSHA regulations being followed in most workplaces, many employers choose to place profits over the safety of their employees and fail to adhere to federal safety guidelines. The phrase ‘fatal four’ refers to the four most common causes of construction fatalities. These include falls and being caught in between objects. According to OSHA, an average of 12 work-related fatalities occur in the U.S each day.

‘Fatal Four’ Construction Injuries

OSHA’s list of the ‘fatal four’ construction injuries includes falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught in or between objects. Because these specific injuries are so prevalent and dangerous, it’s important to understand why they happen.

FALLS

Construction workers have to work from high elevations often, which plays a significant role in fatal falls. Construction workers often perform their job duties on top of scaffolds, roofs, or ladders. Although working from vast heights is common, some employers still disregard the massive threat that falling poses.

Stairwells without guardrails and incorrectly assembled scaffolding present falling hazards for workers. In many instances, falls are preventable if employers provide adequate fall protection, including guardrails, safety nets, and harnesses. In addition to providing the right equipment and tools, businesses must provide proper safety training to those working at heights to ensure their safety. When this doesn’t happen, a fatal fall injury is likely to occur.

BEING STRUCK BY AN OBJECT

There are many ways construction workers can be struck by an object at work, including being hit by flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects. Lack of proper training in the use of equipment or heavy machinery and working with defective equipment make it easy for a construction industry accident to happen. Unsuspecting workers can be hit by objects that are being lowered when parking brakes are ineffective and when debris nets are not in place. Jobsite materials that are not properly secured can also hit workers, injuring them.

ELECTROCUTIONS

Construction workers can be electrocuted when they, one of their tools, or a piece of equipment comes into contact with power lines or exposed electrical sources. In certain instances, workers can be unaware of all the power sources around them, from underground and overhead power lines to damaged receptacles and connectors. To prevent workplace electrocution injuries, employers must properly train workers and install proper warning signage. Electrocutions can result in severe shocks that can cause extensive burns to the skin or even paralysis. These instances can also cause fires or explosions to occur.

CAUGHT IN OR BETWEEN OBJECTS

When construction workers become caught in or between objects or equipment, it can quickly become a deadly situation. These instances occur when a worker’s body or a part of their body becomes trapped, stuck, or compressed between two objects. Workers can get caught in between moving parts of unguarded pieces of machinery and get pinned between heavy pieces of equipment and a wall.

Houston Workplace Accident Attorneys

When an employer fails to provide employees with proper training, safety protocols, and/or safety equipment, fatal construction injuries can occur. When this happens, it’s important that the injured party and their loved ones seek legal counsel from an experienced workplace accident attorney. At Ramsey Law Group, we understand just how devastating these injuries can be and we will fight to hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know was injured at work, contact our office today for more information on how we can help.