Beware of the “Fatal Four” Accidents In Construction

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Beware of the “Fatal Four” Accidents In Construction

Worksites across New York City have experienced a steady and tragic uptick in fatal construction accidents this year. In April, three construction workers died in a seven-day span only a few weeks into the Spring building season. Three additional construction fatalities followed between the months of May and August.  

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.), 971 fatal accidents were reported in the construction industry in 2017. More than half of theses deaths were the result of the same four types of accidents most commonly known for causing life-threatening injuries. Workers in the industry know them as the “Fatal Four.” 

The ‘Fatal Four’  
The Fatal Four construction accidents accounted for the loss of 582 construction workers in 2017. Most of these tragedies in which were entirely preventable.  

The Fatal Four construction hazards and the number of fatalities each contributed to in O.S.H.A.’s most recent injury report, include: 

Falls 
Fall accidents accounted for 381 worker fatalities and are the number one cause of death in the construction industry. These accidents include workers falling from elevated heights, platforms, down a flight of stairs, or slipping and falling on spills.  

Struck By Object 
Struck by object accidents accounted for 80 worker fatalities. These accidents occur when objects, such as tools or materials, fall, swing, or go airborne on the worksite, causing fatal harm to workers in the area.  

Electrocutions  
Electrocution accidents accounted for 71 worker fatalities. These types of accidents occur when wiring is incorrect, exposed, or subject to wet conditions. Electrocutions also occur when construction equipment strikes overhead power lines in the field.  

Caught In or Between  
Caught in or between accidents accounted for 50 worker fatalities. Construction equipment and machinery can be very heavy and quick moving. When errors occur during operation or employees are not paying attention, workers can become caught in between machines, fall into machines, or become trapped under equipment.  

The Fatal Four In NYC 
New York City and its metro areas have seen at least one example of each Fatal Four construction accident so far in 2019:  

  • Fall: One worker was killed when he fell 13 stories from a Brooklyn Heights high-rise in April. Another fell 30-feet to his death on a project in Manhattan in May. 
  • Struck By Object: One worker was killed by a falling piece of stone in Midtown Manhattan that came loose from a building.  
  • Electrocution: One worker recently died in New Jersey from electrocution when his scaffold hit a high-tension wire.  
  • Caught In or Between: A Brooklyn construction worker died in April after being crushed by part of a crane that fell at a SoHo construction site. 

How To Prevent The Fatal Four 

Prevention and training are two of the most successful safety measures contractors and employers can follow to help prevent Fatal Four in the workplace. Specific safety prevention plans should be designed for each type of injury, unique to each work environment and trade.  

O.S.H.A.provides the following guidelines to help employers get started:  

Fall Protection 

  • Properly use fall arrest equipment.  
  • Install gates and guard rails when working at elevated heights.  
  • Use ladders safely and build scaffolding securely.  
  • Clean up spills and tripping hazards around the worksite immediately.  
  • Cover any floor openings or label them with a warning.  

Preventing Struck-By Accidents 

  • Never put yourself between a moving machine and a fixed object such as a wall.  
  • Wear high-visibility clothes so equipment operators can easily spot you if working around moving equipment.  
  • Properly secure all tools and materials to prevent them from falling or going airborne.  

Preventing Caught In/Between  

  • Never remove machine guards or barriers when operating.  
  • Secure loads properly before transporting.  
  • Do not wear jewelry or loose clothing on the job.  
  • Always stay alert to moving equipment around you.  

Preventing Electrocutions 

  • Do not start working until you have located and identified all utilities.  
  • Watch for overhead power lines when operating equipment in the field.  
  • Stay alert to electrical wires when on ladders and scaffolds. 
  • Do no use portable electrical tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.  

New York City Construction Accident Attorneys  

Injuries sustained from the Fatal Four can be prevented by following strict safety measures on the job. Employers who neglect to provide safety training in any of these areas put workers at an unnecessary risk for injuries.  

At the law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, we have been fighting for New York City workers and victims of construction accidents for over 60 years. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious construction injury, our knowledgeable accident attorneys are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation to review your case and your rights.