Top four causes of workplace deaths and injuries

Construction’s fatal four

The construction industry carries a higher risk of injuries and fatalities than most other sectors. Each year, a large number of workers are seriously injured or killed in construction accidents on the job. While there are a number of different types of accidents that happen, there are four primary causes of serious workplace injuries and fatalities within the industry.


In 2015, 4,379 private-industry workers were killed at their jobs. Out of those, 21.5 percent were employed in the construction industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the top four causes of injuries and fatalities at work sites accounted for 64.2 percent of the resulting deaths and injuries.

Top four causes of workplace deaths and injuries

A majority of fatal workplace accidents are preventable. The leading accident types in the industry include the following:

  • Falls at 38.8 percent of the accidents
  • Struck by objects at 9.6%
  • Electrocutions at 8.6%
  • Caught in equipment or being crushed at 7.2 percent

Because of the high risks of serious accidents, fatalities and injuries at construction sites, OSHA has promulgated numerous regulations that employers are supposed to adhere to in order to help protect their workers. These include rules about fall protection, scaffolding, safety gear and others. Employees should also take steps to ensure their own safety and be willing to speak up when their employers are not following the safety rules.

Preventing accidents

Employers are supposed to provide adequate fall protection for their workers who are working at heights above four feet off of the ground as well as around holes in the walls and floors. Holes in the floor should be protected with guardrails to prevent workers from falling through them. No matter the height, guardrails should be used around any dangerous equipment that workers could fall into. Scaffolding that is built must be constructed well and according to OSHA’s standards, and workers who will be working on scaffolding should also be given appropriate safety gear.

Many struck-by-object accidents happen because of inattentiveness. Employers may help to prevent these types of accidents by using audio or visual warning devices. Workers should pay attention to their surroundings and should be aware when they are walking underneath scaffolding or around equipment. Making certain to wear hardhats is also important to help reduce the risk of serious injuries or fatalities.

In order to help prevent workplace electrocutions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a number of standards in place that employers are supposed to follow. OSHA mandates that proper insulation is used. It also mandates appropriate grounding, guarding and the use of electrical protective devices as well as the implementation of safety practices for workers who work around electricity. Guarding involves enclosing electrical equipment so that people do not accidentally come into contact with it.

Caught-in equipment and crushing accidents may be prevented as well. Employers are supposed to follow OSHA’s standards for lockout procedures to help prevent workers from being caught in machinery. Establishing safety rules and implementing training are also important for helping to prevent these types of accidents.

Employers and workers may help to prevent the top four causes of construction accidents and injuries by following the standards that have been outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers who believe that their employers are not following the appropriate safety practices should speak up, and they should not agree to work in unsafe conditions. Corrective measures should be taken to rid the workplace of as many hazards are possible so that the workers are protected. People who are seriously injured while working at their job sites may want to consult with an attorney who is experienced with construction accidents to learn more about their rights.


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