What Type of Accident Kills Most Construction Workers?

clipboard with and injury report form on table next to construction vest and helmet

Construction sites are among the most dangerous workplaces, and many hazards lead to tragic outcomes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) highlights four primary causes—often referred to as the Fatal Four—that cause a significant portion of construction worker fatalities.

Understanding and addressing these hazards is essential to enhance safety measures and protect workers.

Let’s examine these critical dangers and their impact on construction workers and their families.

There are four leading causes of fatalities on construction sites. Three out of five (59%) construction workers die because of one of these causes, according to previous years statistics.

Falls cause the most fatal construction accidents, followed by struck by objectelectrocution, and caught-in or -between accidents.

These Fatal Four caused more than half (54.2%) of construction worker deaths in previous years, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The breakdown follows:

  • Falls – 279 out of 806 total deaths in construction in CY 2012 (34.6%)
  • Struck by Object – 79 (9.8%)
  • Electrocutions – 66 (8.1%)
  • Caught-in/between – 13 (1.6%)

Here’s what you need to know:


Injured Construction WorkerFall hazards cause a person to lose balance or otherwise result in a workplace fall. They account for 34% of fatal construction injuries, and close to half of all fatal falls in private industries involve construction workers.

In previous years, approximately one-third of fatal falls in construction were from roofs, 18% were from scaffolding or staging, 16% were from ladders, and 8% were from girders or structural steel.

The other 25% of fatal falls included falls through existing floor openings, from non-moving vehicles, from aerial lifts, and other places.

The leading cause of roofing injuries and fatalities is falls.

More ironworkers died from work-related falls than workers in any other construction occupation. The death rate was ten times higher than the average.

Falls from ladders account for over 100 fatalities each year and thousands of injuries.

Examples of falls include those from elevation or ground level to lower levels, falls through existing floor or roof openings, falls through the floor or roof surface, and jumps from structures and equipment.


Struck by Object

OSHA defines struck-by injuries as those produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.

Struck-by hazards include accidents in which a worker is struck by a flying, falling, swinging, or rolling object.

When a moving vehicle runs over a worker without catching them under it, the incident is considered a struck-by-rolling object accident. It’s another confusing aspect of the law.

Construction accident lawyers know and understand these laws and assist clients in navigating them and other complex aspects of the legal system.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), contact with objects and equipment accounted for 17% of the total 4,340 fatal work injuries in previous years.

Electrocution Hazards

Electrical energy electrocutes people, sometimes to death. Shock, burns, and falls from elevations are also common electricity-related injuries. The severity and effects of an electrical injury depend on the pathway through the body, the amount of current, the length of exposure, and whether the skin is wet or dry.

Data from the BLS cited by OSHA shows that the construction occupations with the highest average number of electrocution-related deaths per year were electricians (29), construction laborers (19), supervisors/managers (13), electrical power installers, and repairers (10). More specifically, electrocution kills electrical power installers, repairers, and earth drillers most often.


According to OSHA, caught-in or between hazards result from two or more objects or parts of an object squeezing, catching, crushing, pinching, or compressing a person.

Operating equipment can pull workers into it, pin them between equipment and a solid object, strangle them with clothing caught in running machinery, crush them between stacked or stored materials and a solid object, or capture them in a trench between shoring and construction materials.

Cave-ins, known as trenching, are also classified as Caught events.Mental Health and Stress Management

The demanding nature of construction work often places a significant mental and emotional strain on workers. Long hours, physical labor, and high-risk environments contribute to elevated stress levels, which can negatively impact mental health.

Addressing these issues is crucial not only for the well-being of the workers but also for maintaining a safe construction site.

Mental Health Issues and Stress Among Construction Workers

Mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, are prevalent in the construction industry. The constant pressure to meet deadlines, coupled with the inherent dangers of the job, can lead to chronic stress.

This stress can manifest in various ways, affecting concentration, decision-making, and overall job performance. When mental health issues go unaddressed, the risk of accidents and injuries increases significantly.

Programs and Support Systems

Implementing programs and support systems to help workers manage stress and mental health issues is essential for preventing accidents and promoting a healthy work environment.

Here are some effective strategies:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offering access to confidential counseling services can help workers cope with personal and work-related stress.
  • Mental Health Training: Training supervisors and employees to recognize signs of mental health issues and stress can foster a supportive work environment.
  • Stress Management Workshops: Conducting workshops on stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and time management, can equip workers with tools to handle stress better.
  • Peer Support Groups: Establishing peer support groups allows workers to share their experiences and help each other manage stress and mental health challenges.
  • Access to Resources: Providing information about mental health resources, hotlines, and local support services ensures workers can find help.

Preventing Accidents Related to Fatigue and Mental Strain

workplace accidentMental health and stress management programs prevent accidents related to fatigue and mental strain. Mentally healthy workers are more alert, focused, and capable of making sound decisions.

Reducing stress and improving mental health can lead to fewer mistakes, lower injury rates, and a safer work environment.

Despite the best efforts to manage stress and promote mental health, accidents can still occur on construction sites. When they do, hire an experienced NYC construction accident lawyer.

A knowledgeable attorney helps workers navigate the complex legal landscape and ensures they receive the compensation and support they deserve.

Construction accident lawyers understand the unique challenges workers face in the industry, including the impact of mental health on job performance and safety.

They handle cases involving workplace injuries, ensuring the workers’ rights are protected and they receive adequate compensation for their suffering.

When accidents happen, a skilled NYC construction accident lawyer significantly improves the outcome of a worker’s compensation claim.

Ergonomics and Health

Construction workers often face long-term health challenges due to repetitive strain and overexertion. These issues can lead to chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and decreased productivity.

Addressing these health concerns through ergonomic practices and tools can ensure workers’ well-being and maintain a safe and efficient work environment.

Addressing Long-Term Health Issues

Long-term health issues in the construction industry commonly arise from repetitive motions, heavy lifting, and sustained awkward postures.

These activities can cause cumulative trauma disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and lower back injuries.

Implementing strategies that reduce physical strain and improve worker comfort is essential to mitigating these risks.

Importance of Ergonomic Tools and Practices

Integrating ergonomic tools and practices into construction workers’ daily routines can significantly reduce the risk of injury and long-term health problems.

Here are some key approaches:

  • Ergonomic Equipment: Using tools and machinery designed with ergonomics can minimize physical stress, including adjusting scaffolding, anti-vibration gloves, and equipment with enhanced grip features.
  • Proper Lifting Techniques: Training workers on correct lifting techniques, such as bending the knees and keeping the load close to the body, can prevent back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Workstation Design: Designed workstations to fit workers’ physical needs can reduce strain. Adjustable work surfaces and proper seating can help maintain good posture and minimize discomfort.
  • Job Rotation: Implementing job rotation schedules prevents overuse injuries by varying workers’ tasks, allowing them to use different muscle groups.
  • Regular Breaks: Encouraging frequent breaks and incorporating stretching exercises can help alleviate muscle tension and reduce fatigue.

The Role of Employers and Workers

Employers must promote ergonomic health by providing the necessary resources and training. Regular ergonomic assessments can identify potential hazards and areas for improvement.

Workers should also proactively report discomfort or pain and adhere to ergonomic practices.

Prioritizing ergonomics and addressing the root causes of repetitive strain and overexertion allows the construction industry to enhance worker health, reduce injury rates, and improve overall job satisfaction.

A proactive approach benefits the workers and contributes to the efficiency and productivity of construction projects.

Safety Audits and Inspections

Maintaining a safe construction site requires continuous vigilance and proactive measures. Regular safety audits and inspections are critical in identifying and mitigating risks, ensuring that all safety protocols are followed and that the work environment remains secure for all employees.

Regular Safety Audits and Inspections

Regular safety audits and inspections are essential for identifying potential hazards before they cause harm.

These evaluations help in:

  • Identifying Hazards: Regular audits can pinpoint unsafe conditions, such as faulty equipment, structural weaknesses, and hazardous work practices.
  • Ensuring Compliance: Inspections ensure the job follows all safety regulations and guidelines, reducing the risk of accidents and legal repercussions.
  • Improving Safety Measures: Audits provide valuable data to improve safety protocols and implement new measures to enhance worker protection.

Third-Party Safety Inspections and Certifications

Third-party safety inspections and certifications add more accountability and expertise to construction site safety.

These external evaluations offer several benefits:

  • Objective Assessments: Third-party inspectors unbiasedly review the site’s safety conditions, free from internal influences or pressures.
  • Specialized Expertise: Certified inspectors have specialized knowledge and experience in identifying and addressing specific safety concerns that in-house personnel may overlook.
  • Credibility and Trust: Third-party certifications enhance the credibility of a construction company’s commitment to safety, which can be beneficial in securing contracts and maintaining a positive reputation.

Negligence can still occur despite rigorous safety audits and inspections, leading to accidents and injuries.

Construction negligence may involve:

  • Failure to Conduct Regular Inspections: If an employer neglects to perform regular safety audits and inspections, hazardous conditions may go unnoticed and unaddressed.
  • Ignoring Identified Hazards: When management doesn’t mitigate identified risks promptly, the likelihood of accidents increases, demonstrating a disregard for worker safety.
  • Inadequate Safety Training: Workers not adequately trained in safety procedures may face a greater risk of accidents.

If construction site negligence caused your injury, legal assistance is crucial. A knowledgeable construction accident lawyer helps you navigate the complexities of your case and ensures you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

Legal support is essential in:

  • Proving Negligence: You must demonstrate that your injury directly resulted from the employer’s failure to maintain a safe working environment.
  • Securing Compensation: Obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs.
  • Protecting Your Rights: Ensuring that your rights are upheld throughout the legal process and that you are not taken advantage of by insurance companies or employers.

While regular safety audits and inspections are vital for maintaining a safe construction site, negligence can still lead to accidents.

If someone’s negligence injures you, consult an experienced construction accident lawyer for the support and advocacy needed to secure the compensation you deserve.

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.