What Are OSHA’s Fatal Four in Construction?

construction worker lying on the ground with hard hat next to him

Construction sites are dangerous, primarily because of what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls the “fatal four” hazards. The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is here to explore these dangers at length, how to prevent them from causing accidents, and what you can do if one injures you on the job in New York.

What Are OSHA’s Fatal Four in Construction?

The fatal four in construction are the following dangers that OSHA has found most commonly contribute to deadly workplace accidents:

Fall Hazards

Fall hazards exist anywhere a worker might slip, trip, or fall from an elevated location. This can include roofs, ladders, scaffolding, and slick or cluttered floors. These hazards arise from:

  • Unprotected edges
  • Open sides
  • Improperly constructed scaffolding
  • The misuse of portable ladders

Workers risk severe injuries when they fall, including fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. Falls are more likely to be fatal without guardrails, safety nets, or other fall arrest systems.

Struck-By Hazards

Struck-by accidents occur when a worker gets hit by a vehicle, object, or piece of equipment. Many result from:

  • Items being thrown into the work environment by malfunctioning tools or equipment
  • Objects falling from elevated work areas
  • Equipment swinging from cranes or hoists
  • Vehicles or equipment moving within work zones

Injuries from such hazards can range from minor bruises and lacerations to fatal wounds, especially if a worker gets hit by a heavy machine or moving vehicle.

Caught-In or -Between Hazards

Caught-in or -between accidents occur when workers get trapped, crushed, or squeezed between objects or surfaces. Such scenarios can involve:

The consequences of caught-in or -between accidents can be serious, placing workers at risk of asphyxiation, fractures, amputations, or crushing injuries.

Electrocution Hazards

Electrocution hazards exist anywhere workers can come into contact with electrical energy. Many electrocution accidents stem from:

  • Interactions with power lines
  • Missing ground-fault protections
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Working in wet conditions without necessary precautions

Exposure to electrical energy can result in burns, shocks, and even cardiac arrest. A sudden reaction to an electric shock could also lead to secondary incidents, such as falls from heights.

Ways to Prevent These Accidents

Property owners, construction site managers, and contractors can take the following steps to prevent the fatal four hazards and keep construction workers safe:

  • Conduct regular safety training for all employees.
  • Use guardrails and toe-boards around elevated surfaces.
  • Regularly inspect scaffolding, ladders, and trenches.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) like helmets and safety harnesses.
  • Maintain a clean and neat work environment to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Establish exclusion zones around areas with overhead work to prevent struck-by incidents.
  • Install backup alarms on all mobile equipment.
  • Ensure machinery has appropriate machine guards in place.
  • Enforce a policy of de-energizing electrical circuits before working on them.
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for electrical equipment.
  • Regularly inspect all electrical tools and equipment.
  • Implement lockout/tagout procedures for machinery with moving parts.

Have You Lost a Loved One or Been Injured in a Construction Accident?

If you’ve suffered harm or tragically lost a loved one to one of OSHA’s fatal four in construction, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. is here to champion your rights. We understand the details of New York construction accident cases, with an extensive knowledge of Sections 200, 240(1), and 241(6) of the New York Labor Law. Our experienced team will work relentlessly to demand the fair recovery you deserve. Contact us now for a free and comprehensive consultation about your case.

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.