How should construction companies address the "Fatal Four"?
There is a reason cutting corners to save time and money is the most dangerous thing a construction company can do. It only takes one mishap to result in the injury or death of a worker. In most cases, worker injuries can be prevented by ensuring proper safeguards are in place.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 4,779 worker deaths occurred in the private industry in 2018. More than 1,000 of those deaths occurred in construction and accounted for about one in five worker fatalities.
OSHA refers to the four leading causes of construction worker deaths as the "Fatal Four," which accounted for a combined total of 58.6 percent of all construction fatalities in 2018. These include:
- Falls — 33.5 percent
- Struck by object — 11.1 percent
- Electrocutions — 8.5 percent
- Caught-in/between — 5.5 percent
Establishing an effective emergency response system
Occupational Health & Safety states that the hard hats and safety goggles don't always cut it when it comes to preventing injuries and deaths. Even with minimal safety gear, injuries are still bound to happen. For example, a hard hat isn't going to save a worker who experiences one of the fatal four or has an incident on a remote site.
Prevention should always be the number one priority. In the event of an accident, however, it's critical that construction companies have an effective emergency response system in place. When establishing a set of emergency protocols, they should be clear, easy to comprehend, and communicated well.
Periodic check-ins are one approach construction companies can take on high-risk work sites. This approach would involve having workers check in to let their monitors know that they are OK. If a worker doesn't check in, a monitor can respond promptly.
Lack of safety measures may be breaking the law
When construction companies fail to employ adequate safety measures on their worksites, they may be out of compliance with the federal laws set forth by OSHA. This endangers workers and puts companies at risk of facing an OSHA fine.
The 10 most cited safety standards in 2018 include:
- Employing fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Communicating workplace hazards (applies to all industries) (29 CFR 1910.1200)
- Scaffolding requirements (29 CFR 1926.451)
- Providing respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134)
- Control of hazardous energy (machine lockout/tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147)
- Ladder safety (29 CFR 1926.1053)
- Industrial truck safety (29 CFR 1910.178)
- Fall protection training (29 CFR 1926.503)
- Machine guarding (29 CFR 1910.212)
- Eye and face protection (29 CFR 1926.102)
If you were hurt in a construction accident, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Vellner Law, PC helps serves injured workers in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania. We can help you navigate this complex process and maximize your chances of obtaining benefits. To learn more, contact us online and schedule your free consultation with our legal team.