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New York Personal Injury Attorneys

The Construction Industry’s Fatal Four

August 6, 2019 in

The construction industry’s term, the “fatal four,” refers to the four most common causes of workplace fatalities. They include falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and individuals being caught in or pinned between objects. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these four types of construction accidents are responsible for more than half of the workplace fatalities that occur every year within the U.S. When an individual is killed in a workplace accident, his or her loved ones may have the option of seeking compensation for their losses through a wrongful death claim. 

Fatal Four Data: The Most Commonly Fatal Construction Hazards

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for enforcing standards to keep American workplaces safe and healthful. Every year, an update with ‘Fatal Four’ data is released. Here is the latest data available on the leading causes of work-related deaths in private sector construction, for the year 2017:

  1. Falls (381 deaths, 39.2% of construction workers killed that year)
  2. Struck by Object (80 deaths, 8.2% of total)
  3. Electrocutions (71 deaths, 7.3% of total)
  4. Caught-in/between (50 deaths, 5.1% of total)

Why Fatal Four Accidents Happen


High elevations often play a role in fatal falls, especially when crew members are working on scaffolds, roofs, or ladders. Working with elevated heights in the construction industry is so common, especially in New York, that employers and workers can disregard the threat that falling poses. An injury of this type may also occur when a contractor fails to properly inspect a roof and it collapses, or when a worker takes steps without looking and is near an open-sided floor or on top of a roof which has holes taped over with plastic. Stairwells without guardrails and incorrectly assembled scaffolds can also present as falling hazards. In many cases, this main cause of death for construction workers is preventable, if it weren’t for inadequate or a complete lack of fall protection. Fall protection equipment includes items such as guardrails, safety nets, harnesses, etc., as well as proper safety training. 

Struck by an Object

There are four common ways workers can be struck by an object, and they include flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects. Oftentimes these tragic deaths are caused by a lack of proper training in the use of equipment and heavy machinery. For example, accidents can happen when employees use defective equipment, are lowering materials, forget to use parking brakes, reverse vehicle alarms, tool guards, personal protection equipment, debris nets, catch platforms and more. Workers can also be injured by jobsite materials that aren’t secured or when equipment is swung in the wrong direction


A worker can be electrocuted when they, one of their tools, or piece of equipment comes into contact with power lines or an exposed electrical source. Sometimes workers may be simply be unaware of all the energized power sources, from underground and overhead power lines to damaged receptacles and connectors or they may fail to remember to shut off power sources before performing their work. Electrocutions can result in severe shocks that may cause extensive burns or even paralysis. They can also lead to fires or explosions.  


The final fatal construction hazard is caught in or between dangers. This generally includes a person getting a part of their body or their whole body trapped, stuck, or compressed between two objects.  Examples include a worker getting caught in moving parts of an unguarded piece of machinery, equipment rollovers, getting pinned between a heavy piece of equipment and a wall, or cave-ins. 

Speak to Our Construction Accident Lawyers

Employers have the responsibility of safeguarding their workers from potential injuries. If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to employer or third-party negligence, contact Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. today. We offer free consultations, call (212) 732-9000 or request one online

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