What is construction’s fatal four?

There are four leading causes of construction site deaths and these are falls, electrocution, struck by an object and getting caught on or between objects.

Working in construction can provide people in New Haven with a good living but it is not without risk. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, over 13 workers die every day in construction-related accidents across America. In fact, during 2014, 4,679 people were fatally injured while working on a construction site and half of those deaths were attributed to four main causes.

Construction falls

In 2014, 39.9 percent of deaths on construction sites were attributed to falls, making this the leading cause of construction fatalities. To protect workers from serious harm or death, OSHA has emphasized that employers must take appropriate steps to keep worksites safe. These steps or requirements include the use of safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, guardrails, positioning device systems or covers for ground openings. These safety measures are designed to keep the worker from harm in a variety of environments including formwork, hoist areas, leading edges that are six feet and higher, elevated walking surfaces that are also over six feet and pits.

Electrocution

Construction worksites are often a maze of portable power tools, exposed wiring and ground circuits. Therefore, it should not be unexpected that electrocution is the second leading cause of construction fatalities and the cause of serious injury to dozens of others. OSHA's Training Institute states that there are several types of events connected to electrical hazards and these include the following:

  • Electrocution - this is defined as the entering of a high-voltage current into the body through another conductor such as standing water, touching a power line with a metal object or through some other contact.
  • Arc flash/blast - when conductors are not working properly, a high voltage gap may occur, causing a "sudden release of electrical energy through the air." These events can cause severe burns
  • Shock - considered a non-fatal contact with electricity, shock occurs when an electric current passes through the body and out again.
  • Explosions - if there are hazardous materials on the worksite, an electric spark or current could ignite them.

Additionally, electrical currents can cause a fire to break out and these are generally caused by cords that are damaged, old wiring and electrical outlets that are not working properly.

Struck by object

There is a constant flow of materials, tools and other equipment on a construction site. When employees are not paying attention, these objects can cause severe harm to victims. Examples of when workers could be struck by an object include tools that are dropped from above, cranes that fail, large beams that workers lose control of and an upper level that gives way.

Caught-in/between objects

Although less common - only 1.4 percent of fatalities are caused by this problem - construction workers can get caught on a protruding piece of metal, or get squeezed between a solid object if machine operators or other co-workers are not paying attention. Supervisors and contractors should always make sure that all workers' locations are identified when moving large equipment and materials. Furthermore, construction sites should be regularly inspected for any potential hazards before workers are allowed to enter.

When a construction accident in Connecticut occurs, it often leaves workers seriously injured or deceased. This places a heavy burden on workers and their families financially, physically, emotionally and mentally. However, they may find it of benefit to discuss their situation with an injury attorney who understands construction law.