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What Are the Top Causes of Death in the Construction Industry in CA?

The construction industry holds many dangers for workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction causes one in five worker deaths in the U.S. every year. In 2015, construction accounted for 214% of all private industry worker fatalities – 937 out of 4,379.

There were four leading causes, other than highway collisions, that were responsible for 64.3% of all construction worker deaths. OSHA aptly named them the “Fatal Four.” They are as follows:

#1: Falls

In 2015, 38.8% of construction worker deaths were due to falls. Falls from ladders, buildings, scaffoldings, elevator shafts, holes in the floor, trip and fall hazards, staircases, and into dangerous machines or vats can all lead to catastrophic injury or death. Workers have the right to a safe workplace. In the construction industry, this means proper personal fall protection gear.

Fall protection was the number one most-cited standard by OSHA in the 2016 fiscal year. OSHA mandates fall protection gear in construction, according to regulations standard number 1926.501. This standard requires employers to determine whether there is a fall risk, then to provide surfaces that can safely support employees. Walking surfaces that are six feet high or greater require guardrail systems, safety nets, or personal fall arrest for workers. Employers must also cover holes, skylights, and other openings to prevent falls.

#2: Struck by Object

This cause of death contributed to 90 fatalities in 2015, resulting in almost 10% of all deaths. Contact with objects and equipment can lead to serious concussions, open head injuries, crush injuries, and death. Common struck-by object deaths in the construction industry include cranes collapsing, crane loads falling, and objects falling from scaffolds. Nails from nail guns, swinging loads, and vehicles rolling over workers are all examples of potentially fatal struck-by object incidents.

To prevent this type of injury, employers should provide adequate safety training and personal protection devices. Workers should be highly visible and wear bright warning clothing to avoid vehicles striking them. Workers should also keep clear from machinery when in use, as well as lifted and suspended loads. Employers should enforce safety rules when working with compressed air, tools, machines, and while performing any overhead work. Workers should always strap equipment down properly when working on a scaffold.

#3: Electrocutions

Electrocutions accounted for 8.6% of construction deaths, with 81 fatalities. Construction workers often have to work with electrical components and live wires during new builds and repairs. Employers must provide ample safety equipment to prevent electrocution, as well as employee training to handle electric parts. There are many sources of hazardous energy that could injure or kill workers. OSHA recommends proper lockout/tagout practices to protect workers from the release of hazardous energy.

#4: Caught-In or Caught Between

Number four on the list took 67 lives in 2015, or 7.2%. This category includes workers who died from equipment or objects compressing them, as well as those collapsing structures or material crushed. Workers can suffer catastrophic injuries such as internal organ damage and limb amputation in these types of accidents. General industry safety requirements can help reduce caught-in/between construction accidents, such as proper machinery operation training.

The Takeaway…

From operating heavy machinery to working from hundreds of feet in the air, there are many things that could go wrong for someone in construction. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save an average of 602 construction worker lives in the U.S. every year. OSHA works tirelessly to enforce construction safety rules in the workplace, but it comes down in large part to employer vigilance. Negligent employers can cause hazards that lead to worker falls, concussions, electrocutions, and crush injuries. If you’ve been injured in the construction industry, or a loved one suffered a wrongful death at work site, speak to an experienced Riverside accident attorney at Estey & Bomberger, LPP today! 951-543-9020

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