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What Is OSHA’s “Fatal Four?”

Posted in Construction Accidents on April 22, 2022

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has federal authority to set and enforce workplace safety standards. OSHA has used its power and expertise to publish guidelines covering everything from noise exposure to how healthcare workers handle blood.

OSHA establishes these regulations by collecting massive volumes of data about workplace accidents. This information helps OSHA identify the safety issues facing America’s workers and find solutions.

Here is one collection of data called OSHA’s Fatal Four and the safety guidelines OSHA has published for it.

Construction Accidents

Construction workers have the 24th most dangerous job in the U.S. About 260 construction workers die every year, giving them a fatal accident rate of about 13 per 100,000 workers.

This rate might not seem high, but the fatal car accident rate in the U.S. is about 11 per 100,000 residents. This means a construction worker has a greater chance of dying in a construction accident than dying in a car accident.

Construction workers are exposed to many hazardous work conditions. Heavy machines with limited visibility roll around the job site. Workers use dangerous tools with cutting blades and powerful motors.

Workers must navigate around open flames, live electrical wires, and poisonous materials. And they often work dozens or even hundreds of feet above the ground.

OSHA’s Fatal Four

The Fatal Four refers to the four most common fatal construction accidents. Together, these four types of accidents account for 57% of construction accident fatalities. The Fatal Four include:


Falls make up the most common cause of fatal construction accidents. Falling accidents include same-level falls and elevated falls. Nearly 37% of fatal construction accidents involve a fall.

Some examples of falls that happen on construction sites include falls:

OSHA has published extensive rules and guidelines for fall protection. Some of the suggestions include:

  • Providing safety harnesses
  • Erecting guardrails
  • Marking or covering floor openings

Falls often cause death by a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. These regulations and guidelines both prevent falls and reduce their severity when they do happen.

Struck by an Object

About 10% of fatal construction accidents include a worker getting hit by an object. Construction workers can be struck in many ways, including by:

  • Falling objects
  • Swinging objects
  • Dropped objects
  • Moving vehicles
  • Shifting stacks
  • Collapsing walls

Equipment failure, lack of a guidewire, and poor visibility can contribute to struck-by accidents as well.

Some suggestions from OSHA include outfitting all workers around construction equipment with high-visibility safety vests and training workers to maintain an awareness of their surroundings at all times.


Electrocution happens when a live electrical wire sends a current through an accident victim’s body. Electrocution can cause severe burns and cardiac arrest.

Some ways to reduce the risk of electrocution include:

  • Keep power lines out of the worksite until an electrician can connect them
  • Install ground-fault protection on live circuits
  • Match generators to the electrical demand
  • Train workers in the proper use of extension cords

About 9% of construction accidents involve electrocution.

Caught in or Between Objects

The last of the Fatal Four are accidents where a construction worker gets caught in or between objects. About 2% of fatal accidents involve construction workers caught in or between hazards.

These accidents include those where the construction worker gets:

  • Caught in a machine
  • Pinned between an object and another object or vehicle
  • Trapped inside a collapsed stack or structure
  • Buried in a cave-in

Workers can steer clear of these accidents by avoiding baggy clothing and jewelry, wearing visible safety vests, and leaving safety guards intact on machines and tools.

Surviving the Fatal Four

Fortunately, construction workers can avoid the Fatal Four. Following the safety guidelines and pointing out safety violations will protect you and your co-workers from conditions that may lead to tragedy.

Contact Our Construction Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the construction accident lawyers in New York, NY at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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