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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations and “Fatal Four” Hazards

Focus on Safety

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 4,379 fatal workplace injuries were recorded in private U.S. industry in 2015. One out of five deaths — or 937 of them — occurred in the construction industry.

This represents a slight increase over the previous year and was the highest total since 2008. As is generally the case, the construction industry accounted for a greater share of workplace fatalities than any other sector.

Roofer, OSHA Violations and HazardsWhat types of accidents led to the most fatalities? Among all industries, transportation incidents, particularly roadway accidents, are by far the leading cause of worker fatalities every year. But when we exclude vehicle accidents and focus on accidents that occur directly on construction sites, falls, slips and trips are always the leading cause of fatalities.

Among all construction trades, roofers and structural iron and steel workers reported the highest fatal work injury rates. Among roofers, there were 39.7 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). For iron and steel workers, the rate was 29.8 fatalities per 100,000 FTEs.

The Big Picture
Looking beyond fatalities to consider all types of injuries and hazards among all industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually publishes a list of its top 10 most cited workplace safety violations. For the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016, the top 10 most frequently violated OSHA standards were:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machinery and machine guarding
  9. Electrical – wiring methods
  10. Electrical – general requirements

Fatal Four Hazards
Because of the construction industry’s relatively high accident rate, OSHA has given special attention to the leading causes of fatal accidents on construction sites. According to OSHA, four types of hazards account for almost two-thirds (64.2 percent) of all construction workplace accidents. These hazards – which OSHA sometimes refers to as the “Fatal Four” or the “Focus Four” – are:

  1. Fall hazards – These include unprotected sides or holes, improperly constructed walking or working surfaces, and failure to use proper fall protection. These accounted for 38.8 percent of construction deaths in 2015.
  2. “Struck by” hazards – These include falling objects due to rigging failure, loose or shifting materials, equipment malfunctions, and vehicle or equipment strikes. These accounted for 9.6 percent of 2015’s construction fatalities.
  3. Electrocution hazards – These are caused by contact with overhead power lines or live circuits in panels, poorly maintained cords and tools, and lightning strikes. In 2015, these hazards led to 8.6 percent of all fatal construction accidents.
  4. “Caught in” or “caught between” hazards – These include trench or excavation collapses as well as workers caught between moving or rotating equipment, or caught in collapsing structures or materials. These types of hazards led to 7.2 percent of 2015 construction fatalities.

OSHA, along with numerous private worker safety organizations, offers a wide range of training programs, worker protection equipment and risk mitigation products designed specifically to address these four critical areas of concern. For more information, visit the OSHA website.

Call us at 401-331-0500 if you would like more information on worker safety and training resources.