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Preventing construction's “Fatal Four” would save lives

On behalf of Gary Nitsche

This article looks at construction's “Fatal Four” and what workers should do after an accident.

On average, 13 workers are killed on the job everyday in the United States, with about one-fifth of all workplace fatalities occurring in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Construction workers often have to deal with a variety of threats, sometimes due to the nature of their work, but also because of safety lapses that may occur at certain work sites. The majority of deadly construction accidents are caused by four main factors - referred to as the "Fatal Four" - that are often preventable when safety regulations are properly adhered to.

Construction's "Fatal Four"

The leading causes of death in construction are falls (accounting for 39.9 percent of construction deaths in 2014), electrocutions (8.5 percent), being struck by an object (8.4 percent), and getting caught-in/between (1.4 percent). Collectively, these "Fatal Four" account for 58.1 percent of all construction workers fatalities and eliminating them would save over 500 lives each year.

Creating a safer workplace could help eliminate the "Fatal Four." Many construction fatalities are entirely preventable and are due, at least in part, to unsafe working conditions. Preventing falls is of particularly urgent concern given that they are by far the leading cause of death in construction. A look at OSHA citations reveals how safety violations may contribute to deaths and injuries caused by falls. OSHA statistics, for example, show that fall protection, scaffolding regulations, and ladder-safety - all of which help prevent falls - were all among the top 10 leading safety violations in 2014.

Who is responsible?

As FindLaw points out, determining who is responsible when an accident happens at a construction site can be complicated. Parties who may be liable could include, for example, the property's owner, contractors, engineers, architects, construction managers, and suppliers. The size and complexity of a construction project, along with the nature of the accident, will often help determine liability. On a large project, for example, a construction management organization is more likely to be found liable than on a small project.

Furthermore, holding individuals or parties accountable for any safety lapses that may have led to an accident is an important element of improving overall safety in the construction industry. Workers who have been injured on the job should immediately seek medical attention and report their injury to their supervisor. It is important to try to gather as much evidence as soon after an accident occurs as possible. The contact information of witnesses should be collected, for example, and, if it is feasible to do so, photographs should be taken of the accident site.

Construction injury law

Because construction accidents bring up complicated questions surrounding liability, it is important for injured workers to reach out to a personal injury attorney who is experienced in construction accident cases. The right attorney can help build a case for an injured worker and may be able to help him or her pursue financial compensation.

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