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Construction’s “Fatal Four” cause majority of worker deaths

As a North Carolina construction worker, you may have grown accustomed to spotting hazards around virtually every corner. You probably do everything in your power to protect yourself and stay safe on the job site. Your employer must also prioritize your safety, as well as that of other workers. Otherwise, serious, potentially life-threatening injuries can result.

Regrettably, fatalities on construction sites are not uncommon. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that construction workers suffered more than 20% of all work-related fatalities in 2017. In fact, more than 5,100 construction workers lost their lives while on the job that year. Many of them experienced deaths related to similar hazards and circumstances.

The Fatal Four

Construction’s “Fatal Four” are the four primary causes of death among construction workers. Together, they factor into almost 60% of all deaths among these professionals. Coming in as the biggest threat facing today’s construction workers are falls, which caused 381 of the 971 construction-related fatalities that occurred in 2017.

The second-biggest killer of construction workers in 2017, meanwhile, were objects striking workers, causing 8.2% of construction industry deaths. Electrocutions took the third spot, causing 7.3% of 2017's construction worker fatalities. The fourth item on the Fatal Four list involves workers finding themselves stuck or compressed between objects or machinery, which led to more than 5% of construction worker deaths in 2017.

Common OSHA violations

Unfortunately, many construction worker deaths are avoidable. OSHA cites employers for having inadequate or insufficient fall protection, for example, more than they cite them for any other infraction. However, many construction industry employers also receive citations for having unsafe scaffolds or poor hazard communication procedures, among other violations.

Safety advocates assert that eliminating the Fatal Four would save hundreds of construction worker lives every year. If your employer is not doing his or her part to keep you and your colleagues safe on the job site, you may want to call attention to the inaction before it is too late.

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