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OSHA’s Fatal Four Construction Injuries

fatal four osha

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides regulations to promote a safe work place for the workers. Since 1970, OSHA has made a difference for worker’s safety. The government agency partners with state officials, safety and health professionals, unions, and other advocates. The work has had a dramatic effect on workplace safety. For example, the effort has reduced worker’s deaths in America from about 38 worker’s deaths a day in 1970 to 14 a day in 2016.

OSHA has designed a safety and regulation program to keep the construction sites safe by focusing on four areas of injuries. They refer to these injuries as the “Fatal Four.” The “Fatal Four” includes

  • falls,
  • struck by object,
  • electrocution and
  • caught-in/between.

The “Fatal Four” are responsible for more than half of all construction workers death in 2016. The goal of OSHA is to reduce the risk of injury from the “Fatal Four. In the end, they want to save over 600 workers’ lives in America each year.

OSHA Construction Injuries

Below, we have detailed the injuries associated with each of the Fatal Four. Additionally, we have provided you with tips to prevent the types of injuries associated with each type. However, if you or someone you love has been injured on a job site, please call the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today.

Fatal Four #1: Falls

First, falls split into two categories:

  1. falls from heights and
  2. fall on the same level (slips and trips).

Falls from heights can easily cause a fatality. However, falls on the same level cause more injuries. Many falls occur due to openings in roofs and floors. Since the surfaces are not yet strong enough to support scaffolding, workers fall and hurt themselves. In a study of construction accidents from 1995-2005,

  • 33% of fatal falls in construction sites were from falling from a roof
  • 18% of falls occurred due to scaffolding and
  • 16% from falls off of ladders.

How to prevent falls

Therefore, construction companies should use appropriate fall protection equipment. Examples include:

  • guardrail systems,
  • safety nets and
  • personal arrest systems

These systems aid in securing the workplace and assisting workers in events of falls.

Additionally, workers should keep the work areas well lit to avoid accidents and falls on the same level. Companies should train workers on how to maintain their work space free of clutter by keeping it clean. Clutter free work space reduces the chances of accidental trips and falls. Workers should have proper footwear with good traction. Next, they should follow all safety regulations for ladders, scaffolds and roofs. Lastly, companies should train employees on appropriate regulations and safety measures.

Fatal Four #2: Struck by object

Second, a stuck by object injury is caused by a forcible contact or impact to the injured person. This includes:

  • tools falling from a higher level or
  • being hit by a car.

Most workers can avoid struck by objects injuries by the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. This would include hardhats for tools falling from a higher level and safety glasses. Aside from the safety protective measures, workers must pay attention to their surroundings.

How to prevent struct by injuries

Therefore, workers should avoid positioning themselves between moving or fixed objects. Workers should stack materials to prevent them from sliding or falling. Additionally, workers must stay alert and receive adequate training. Construction companies should require appropriate personal protective to cover the eyes, face and head. Lastly, ensure all materials are secured so they do not fall on the workers below.

Fatal Four #3: Electrocution

Third, electrocution can cause serious injury causing damage to the nervous system, muscular contractions and cardiac arrest. The most common injury by electrocution is a burn. Unsafe environments or equipment installation causes many electrocutions. OSHA regulation focuses on reducing safety hazards for electrical equipment. Additionally, they focus on covering requirements for construction and installation. The requirements include:

  • proper insulation,
  • guarding,
  • electrical protective devices and
  • safe work practices by employees.

How to prevent electrocution

Therefore, abiding by basic protocols can prevent electrocution and reduce employee injuries. The basic procedures to protect employee from electrocutions include:

  • using the required personal protective equipment to protect oneself,
  • de-energizing the equipment,
  • using insulating protective equipment and
  • maintaining a safe distance from energized parts.

Lastly, use lockout and tag procedure to ensure the equipment remain energized.

Fatal Four #4: Caught- In/Between

Lastly, caught-in/between injuries occur when a worker’s body is caught, crushed, squeezed or compressed between two objects. Examples include:

  • when materials collapse from a higher floor on top of someone working below
  • if a vehicle traps someone against a wall or
  • if a body part gets pulled into a running machine.

Specific guidelines and procedures can help reduce the possibility of this gruesome type of injury.

How to prevent Caught-In/Between

Therefore, in order to avoid injury, stay alert and aware of your surroundings and your equipment. Workers should never place themselves between pieces of heavy equipment and immovable objects. Workers should refrain from working around swinging or rotating equipment. Additionally, if your construction site appears to begin accumulating water, leave as quickly as possible. Lastly, never wear gloves, long sleeve shirts or jewelry around moving objects.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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