OSHA’s Fatal Four – Leading Causes of Deaths in the Workplace

OSHA's Fatal Four causes of workers death

There were 5,333 deaths in 2019 alone that occurred as a result of fatal occupational injuries. The four most frequent causes of death on construction sites have been labeled by OSHA as the “Fatal Four.”

They are:

  1. Falls
  2. Being struck by an object
  3. Being electrocuted
  4. Getting caught in between equipment and machines.

OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, was enacted “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act.” With this enactment, OSHA was established as part of the United States Department of Labor.

OSHA established, and continues to guide, the standards put in place to protect workers on the jobsite from any variation of occupational injuries or fatalities that may occur.

First, falls have been the leading citation violation in working/construction sites for the 10th year in a row now. 880 workers died from a fall. 81% of those deaths were caused by falls to a lower level either from

  • hazardous scaffolding
  • ladders, or
  • faulty equipment resulting in a collapsing structure or equipment. 12% of those deaths occurred because of falling through a surface or existing opening due to a lack of safety equipment or fall protection.

Second, 518 workers died at construction sites in 2019 deaths after being struck by an object. 47% of those deaths occurred when a worker was struck by a falling object or equipment such as an improperly wielded nail gun. 40% of those deaths occurred when workers were struck by a moving non-transport powered vehicle such as a crane with rigging.

Third, electrical hazards caused 166 deaths on worksites in 2019. The top 7 ways to protect against electrical hazards are:

  1. Distance, commonly from power liens
  2. Isolation and Guarding to restrict access from high voltage power distribution equipment
  3. Enclosure of Electrical Parts
  4. Grounding
  5. Insulation
  6. De-Energizing and Grounding
  7. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Fourth, the last of the fatal four causes of death was when workers were caught in running equipment or compressed by equipment and machines. 120 deaths occurred when workers were caught in or compressed by equipment and 93 deaths occurred when workers got caught in running equipment or machinery, such as a rotating part, dump truck body, collapsing of shoring.

In total, 1/3 of all the deaths in the workplace in 2019 were caused by one of the Fatal Four. Many “fatal four” deaths occurred in Massachusetts. Those statistics don’t consider the near misses nor countless other nonfatal injuries that occurred on construction sites.

If you have questions/concerns regarding unsafe conditions at the jobsite that result in serious injury, you should consult a lawyer experienced in handling construction site injury cases. For questions, please contact one of the experienced lawyers at DILLER LAW, PC.

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