Safety Snapshot: Construction’s Fatal Four

Safety Snapshot: Construction’s Fatal Four

  • Rebecca Pittman
  • 10 November, 2020

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.3 million workers are employed by the construction industry. Safety should be the top priority of any construction company. Yet, about 991 construction workers are killed on the job each year. Some of the most common construction site injuries can be avoided. The “fatal four” injuries that contributed to 57% of the fatalities in the construction industry were falls, caught between objects, electrocutions and struck by objects.

Here’s the breakdown of that 57%:

  • 36% were from falls
  • 10% were from being struck by objects
  • 9% were from electrocutions
  • 2% were from being caught between objects

Safety Stand-Down
Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries. A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime May 7-11, 2018.

Struck-By and Caught-Between Hazards
Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment. How to protect yourself from struck by hazards:

  • Ensuring all hand tools are maintained in good condition.
  • All tools equipped with guards shall have guards in place.
  • Only trained and authorized employees are allowed to operate powder-actuated tools.
  • Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes.
  • All materials stacked materials shall be secured to prevent sliding, falling or collapsing. Secure all materials and tools when working at elevated heights.
  • Toe boards shall be erected along the edge of overhead walking/working surfaces and scaffolds.
  • Proper head, eye, face and hand protection shall be worn.

Each year, workers suffer approximately 125,000 caught or crushed injuries that occur when body parts get caught between two objects or entangled with machinery. These hazards are also referred to as “pinch points”. The physical forces applied to a body part caught in a pinch point can vary and cause injuries ranging from bruises, cuts, amputated body parts, and even death. How to protect yourself from caught in or between hazards:

  • Use machinery that is properly guarded.
  • Use methods to ensure that machinery is sufficiently supported, secured or otherwise made safe.
  • Protect yourself from being pinned between equipment, materials or other objects.
  • Protect yourself on excavation sites.
  • Never walk under suspended loads.
  • Always make contact with equipment operators before walking in front of, behind or around equipment.
  • Motorized equipment shall be equipped with an operating back up alarm.

Avoid Electric Shock
Electrocution results when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy. OSHA recommends that employers teach construction workers the BE SAFE method of avoiding and protecting against electrical hazards.

B = Burns: A burn is the most common shock-related injury. Burns from electricity are either electrical, arc/flash, or thermal contact.

E = Electrocution: Electrocution is fatal; it means to kill with electricity. Electrocution results when a human is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy.

S = Shock: Shock results when the body becomes part of the electrical circuit; current enters the body at one point and leaves at another. Electrical shock is defined as a reflex response to the passage of electric current through the body.

A = Arc Flash/Blast: An arc flash is the sudden release of electrical energy through the air when a high-voltage gap exists and there is a breakdown between conductors. An arc flash gives off thermal radiation (heat) and bright, intense light that can cause burns. Temperatures have been recorded as high as 35,000 °F. High-voltage arcs can also produce considerable pressure waves by rapidly heating the air and creating a blast.

F = Fire: Most electrical distribution fires result from problems with “fixed wiring” such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords (such as extension and appliance cords), plugs, receptacles, and switches also cause electrical fires.

Construction companies working to eliminate these common injuries are helping to save more than 453 American construction workers every year. Put these safety practices into place to do your part in preventing deaths caused by the “fatal four.”

Safety Pros has more than 30 years of experience in providing businesses in various industries with safety recognition programs that work! Contact our team for more information on how a safety recognition program can help your construction company achieve your safety goals!


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