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What are the 'Fatal Four' and how can they be prevented?

Did you know that in 2012 there were 4,628 workers that died on the job? That figure, cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), works out to roughly 3.4 worker deaths for every 100,000 full-time employees. It also means that on average 12 people die every day as a result of something that happened at work.

That probably sounds shockingly high -- but in fact that is the second lowest death rate recorded since 1992, when the fatal injury census was first performed. So why are we telling you all of this? What's the point of this statistics dump?

Well, allow us to provide some more stats to answer that. Of those 4,628 deaths in 2012, nearly 4,200 of them were in the private sector; and of those deaths, 806 of them, or nearly 20 percent, were in construction. Going just one level deeper, it was found that about 54.2 percent of those construction deaths were because of four factors:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by an object
  • Electrocution
  • Being caught in or between something

These four factors have been dubbed the "Fatal Four," and if construction worker deaths related to the "Fatal Four" were eliminated, 437 lives would be saved annually. That's a significant number, but also an even more significant, and ambitious, goal.

Truly "eliminating" the Fatal Four is probably a pipe dream. Accidents are bound to happen in any industry, especially the construction industry. Limiting these mistakes, though, would greatly improve construction worker safety and save a vast number of lives. Construction sites need to be diligent in upholding their safety and emergency protocols. Failing to do so could make numerous parties liable in the case of a construction worker accident.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Commonly Used Statistics," Accessed July 22, 2014

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