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Targeting the "Fatal Four" Safety Issues in Construction

April 21, 2014
 / Safety / 

Construction Safety

One of the keys to developing a great safety program is keeping an eye on major safety issues, like those that the Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to as the “Fatal Four” or the “Focus Four.” A good way to address these is to incorporate them into your daily safety meeting topics and job site inspections, which you can now do in HeavyJob Mobile.

Between 2002 and 2012, 81% of construction fatalities were Focus Four hazards. What’s more, 85% of all citations and 90% of all fines in that period were related to those four areas. In 2012, there were 3,945 worker fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those, 775 deaths — almost 20% — were in construction. And within the construction category, just over half of the deaths (56%) were caused by the Fatal Four:

Falls. More than one third of construction worker deaths in 2012 — 278 out of 775 — were caused by falls. This was by far the most deadly of the four, and one of the best ways to prevent these accidents is to use fall prevention and protection systems. Guardrails are one of the most reliable prevention systems, and you can also opt for protection systems like safety nets that will break a fall, or individual anchorage systems that rely on harnesses.

Struck by Object. This category was responsible for 78 deaths, or 10 percent of the total. There are four types of hazards in the category: flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects. Avoiding these means practicing key safety habits, like staying clear of heavy equipment in operation or lifted/suspended loads, as well as wearing proper protection in vehicles. When performing overhead work, be sure to secure all tools and materials.

Electrocutions. Sixty-six construction workers were killed by electrocutions in 2012. Contact with power lines and energized sources can be a real hazard, so maintain a safe distance from overhead lines. You should also regularly inspect portable tools and extension cords and follow proper lockout/tagout procedures.

Caught-In or Caught-Between. This category includes being pulled into or caught in machinery, and it was responsible for 13 deaths in 2012. Using machinery with moving or rotating parts comes with the territory in construction, which is why it’s crucial to make sure it’s properly guarded. Be aware of where equipment is while you’re working, and stay outside the swing radius of cranes.

All told, the Fatal Four were responsible for 435 deaths in 2012. By focusing company safety program efforts on these areas, you can make sure that hundreds of workers every year can go home safe at the end of the day. For more on the Fatal Four, visit www.osha.gov.


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