As someone who earns a living working in construction, you may be well aware of the various dangers you face each day when you clock in. You may not, however, realize just how many construction workers lose their lives to the same four causes. Known as construction’s “Fatal Four,” the four top causes of construction worker deaths resulted in nearly 1,000 fatalities in 2017, highlighting a need for enhanced safety protocols in the industry.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration, eliminating construction’s Fatal Four could save an estimated 582 construction worker lives every year. Just what are construction’s Fatal Four, and is there anything you or your employer can do to better protect yourself and your colleagues on construction sites?
The Fatal Four
Once you take highway collisions out of the equation, the single biggest killer of today’s construction workers is falls, which caused nearly 40%, or 381 out of 971, of all construction worker deaths in 2017. Falls can result from working on scaffolding, scaffolding collapses and similar circumstances. Even construction workers who do not succumb to their fall-related injuries can wind up facing a lifetime of hardship because of them.
The second-most-common cause of death in the construction industry involves objects striking workers. In 2019, about 8% of all construction worker deaths resulted from objects such as tools, machinery or what have you striking workers and causing serious injuries. Accounting for about 7% of all of 2017’s construction worker deaths, meanwhile, was electrocution, which caused 71 of the year’s 971 construction industry fatalities. The fourth-most-common cause of construction worker deaths involves workers finding themselves crushed or caught in between objects or machinery, with such circumstances causing just over 5% of 2017’s construction fatalities.
When you work in construction, following all required and recommended safety protocols is absolutely critical. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your life in one of the nation’s most dangerous work environments.