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Injured on the Job: OSHA’s Fatal Four

OSHA’s “Fatal Four” accidents cause 57% of all workplace fatalities in the United States. These include falls, strikes by objects, electrocutions, and caught-in-between accidents. Employers have a duty of care to protect their workers from these types of accidents, and workers have a right to pursue compensation when their employer’s negligence causes injuries or wrongful deaths.

The Four Deadliest Workplace Accidents

Falls account for approximately 36% of workplace fatalities. These can occur because of unprotected sides on scaffolding, improperly maintained work surfaces, or because of improperly secured ladders, scaffolding, or safety equipment.

Object strikes cause roughly 10% of workplace deaths. These include workers who are struck by falling objects such as materials falling from roofs or scaffolds. It also includes rigging failures or equipment malfunctions.

Electrocutions cause approximately 9% of fatal workplace accidents. These include contact with exposed wires, defective/damaged power tools, failure to properly mark electrical connections, and improperly connected electrical panels. 

Caught-in or caught-between accidents cause roughly 2.5% of workplace deaths. These include trench collapses and strikes by moving or rotating machinery such as lathes, saws, etc. It also includes individuals who are caught beneath falling structures or stacks of building materials.

Fatal Accidents in Construction

An average of 435 construction workers dies in fatal accidents each year. Statistically, the construction industry has one of the highest fatality rates of any profession. Nationwide, roughly one in every five workplace fatalities involves a construction worker. Those engaged in specialty trades are at greatest risk and account for around 48% of all deaths. These include individuals responsible for the construction of foundations, pouring of concrete, etc.

Engineers are also at considerable risk. Roughly 17% of deaths involve individuals responsible for engineering tasks. This is followed by 16% of general building contractors engaged in the construction of houses, remodeling projects, or construction of other residential properties. 

Roughly 12% of fatalities involve equipment handlers including electricians, plumbers, HVAC personnel, etc. Finally, 7% of fatalities happen to individuals engaged in insulation installation, painting, and installing flooring.  

The high fatality rates over the past decade have prompted increased OSHA oversight. This has resulted in significant fines and penalties. However, it hasn’t ended the risk and construction workers are still dying at a significant rate. When employers fail to properly enforce OSHA standards and take active steps to protect their employees, they negligently place them at risk of suffering a fatal workplace accident. 

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