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Fatal 4: Serious issues construction companies must address

Construction workers face some very unique hazards when they are on the job site. It is imperative that everyone working in this industry is in a safe environment on the job. In order to increase worker safety, employers must ensure they address the "fatal four," i.e., the four most deadly types of accidents for construction workers.

Around one out of every five work-related deaths in the private sector happen to those working in the construction industry. Of the deaths in this field, nearly 64 percent are caused by four specific accidents, namely:

1. Falls

By an overwhelming margin, the most deadly construction accident is a fall. Almost 39 percent of all construction worker deaths occur in falls. There are many different ways that employers can protect workers from this type of accident. Fall arrest devices or harnesses can increase safety if these are used properly.

Construction workers in New York have some extra protections from falls due to the strict liability placed on employers in New York Labor Law 240, commonly referred to as the "Scaffold Law." This statute takes the safety burden off of the workers when they are working above ground level.

2. Struck by object

Coming in second on the fatal four list is workers struck by objects. This type of injury accounts for more than 9 percent of worker deaths in this industry. Requiring hard hats to always be worn on job sites can reduce the number of worker deaths from falling objects.

3. Electrocutions

Being electrocuted is the third most deadly accident for construction workers. It accounts for more than 8 percent of all deaths. Making sure that anything electric is handled appropriately can help prevent these deadly accidents. Equipment with malfunctiong electric components should be tagged out until they can be repaired or replaced.

4. Being caught in or between objects

Rounding out the fatal four is workers caught in or between objects, which accounts for over 7 percent of industry deaths. This category includes a variety of circumstances, including building and trench collapses, being stuck between equipment and a stationary object and being pinned against an object. Using spotters for heavy equipment and requiring workers to wear bright, reflective clothing, e.g., vests, can improve safety in this area.

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