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Safety First: Construction Industry and the Fatal Four

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | September 30, 2015 | Comments Off on Safety First: Construction Industry and the Fatal Four

Although all jobs have hazards associated with them, the construction industry faces more than their fair share. While there are a wide-range of death and injury causes in construction, there are four that stand out. OSHA refers to these as the Fatal Four. The Fatal Four consists of falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught-in-between.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were a total of 828 fatal construction work deaths in 2013, and almost 60% of them were due to the Fatal Four. The fatalities break down like this:

  • Falls: 302 deaths
  • Struck by Object: 84 deaths
  • Electrocutions: 71 deaths
  • Caught-In-Between: 21 deaths

Eradicating the Fatal Four would save the lives of 478 workers in America each year. Below we will dive into the Fatal Four and how construction workers can protect themselves from related injuries and deaths.

OSHA 10 and 30 online



As you saw above, falls make up the largest portion of the Fatal Four, and eliminating falls from the construction industry would save hundreds of lives each year. It’s easy to see why falls cause so many fatalities with workers commonly climbing heights using ladders, stairways and scaffolding.

  • harnesses
  • toe rails
  • handrails

Struck By Object

The second-largest portion of the Fatal Four is struck by object. This refers to flying objects and debris, or suspended and rolling loads striking workers and killing them. Struck by object is especially hazardous because it catches workers off guard and doesn’t give them time to react.

Like falls, the best way to prevent struck by object injuries and fatalities is to wear the correct protective gear. OSHA requires that construction workers wear hard hats at all times and those using power tools need to wear the proper face masks, eyewear, and hand protection.


Construction workers are at a higher-risk of electrocutions than members of the general population, so OSHA is strict on precautions construction workers must take to eliminate electrocutions in the workplace. Although the causes of electrocutions can vary, many of them can be avoided with safety training and personal protective equipment.


Although caught-in-between deaths and injuries are the smallest grouping of the Fatal Four, these fatalities can and should be eliminated from the workplace. Caught-in-between deaths occur when equipment rolls over, or a worker is caught inside a piece of equipment. To eliminate caught-in-between deaths, only trained equipment operators should use machinery and all other workers should understand where the equipment’s crush points and moving parts are.

Key Takeaways

To sum up, the best ways to prevent construction deaths caused by the Fatal Four are to identify and address work hazards, follow the appropriate safety regulations, use personal protective equipment, and regularly undergo safety training. If you’re looking for more information on preventing deaths from the Fatal Four, take our Construction Safety Course. Sign up today!

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