Did you know the leading causes of accidents on the construction site are what OSHA refers to as the Fatal Four hazards: falls, struck-by-objects, electrocution and caught-in-between?
OSHA’s commonly used statistics tell you:
- 971 of the 4,674 worker fatalities in 2017 were in construction – accounting for one in five worker deaths
- The fatal four hazards were responsible for more than half the construction worker deaths in that same year
- Eliminating these fatal four hazards would save 582 worker’s lives every year in the United States.
What should you know about the Fatal Four hazards?
Falls are a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries on the construction site, accounting for 39.2% of worker deaths. You can prevent fall accidents by:
Installing the necessary fall protection equipment, such as guard rails, covers for holes, safety harnesses, stair and/or hand railings. Teach them to identify when and where it is needed and how to correctly install it; proper fall protection is not always present at worksites.
Training workers about fall protection. This means, training them about personal protective equipment, such as fall arrest systems, safety nets, restraint devices. It also means training them in how to use it and how it should fit their bodies when necessary.
Keep your worksite clutter-free of tripping hazards such as extension cords, nails and other debris.
Struck-by Objects account for 8.2% of worker deaths in construction.
This includes objects that are falling, flying, swinging or rolling that could injure a worker. Because these types of accidents are often unforeseen, it is critical for workers to follow the safety rules outlined by your company and OSHA. In addition:
- Ensure workers are wearing high visibility clothing around vehicles or heavy machinery.
- Ensure workers are never positioned between moving and fixed objects such as vehicles, falling or swinging loads and heavy machinery.
- Avoid areas where work is being performed above and ALWAYS were a hard hat while in these situations.
- Shut down equipment before doing repairs or inspections; check wheels on equipment that could move or roll.
Electricity is a serious workplace hazard and electrocution accounts for 7,3% of worker fatalities. Establish safe working practices such as:
- Only allow those with the proper training to handle electrical systems.
- Ensure workers have the right personal protective equipment, such as insulated electric gloves.
- Train employees in the use of lockout/tagout systems.
- Power off tools and machinery when not in use.
- Know where overhead power lines are located and keep a safe distance away.
- Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
Caught-in-between hazards account for 5.1% of worker deaths in construction and can happen suddenly or without warning.
These are accidents where a worker’s body part is caught, crushed or squeezed between two or more objects that happens as a result of collapsing materials, body parts pulled into unguarded machinery and equipment rollovers.
Safe working practices to avoid these types of accidents include:
- Do not remove machine guards unless you have lockout/tagout systems in use.
- Do not wear loose clothing that could tangle in moving parts.
- Ensure all loads are secured and stable before transport.
- Never position yourself between moving and fixed object.
- Be sure to have trenching work safety practices in place.
Develop a culture of safety and educate your workers.
- Training is a key component of your company’s safety culture. Train workers about the hazards and how to avoid them. Train on what PPE to use, how to fit it and use correctly, and how to check to make sure it is in usable condition
- Comply with safety procedures and practices on the jobsite.