Examining the Fatal Four

Practitioners within the construction industry in California likely enjoy the personal freedoms that the work affords. The promise of physically demanding work performed outside of a traditional office setting can be particularly appealing to many. Yet the tradeoff for working in these conditions is the acceptance of the fact that construction work, in general, remains one of the most dangerous professions.

This typically does not come as a revelation to those within the industry; they often understand the risks they face. However, most assume that their employers always take the necessary steps to ensure their protection. Sadly, this assumption often proves untrue.

Common construction site accidents

What is maddeningly frustrating about this fact is that the causes of most construction site accidents are well-known. Indeed, data shared by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows that four causes (dubbed “the Fatal Four” by industry insiders) account for almost 60% of such incidents. These are:

  • Falls
  • Electrocutions
  • Falling objects
  • Crush injuries

“Crush injuries” in this context include workers caught in heavy machinery or in-between surfaces and materials.

An indifference towards worker safety?

One might assume that having this information would place employers in the construction industry in a prime position to protect their workers from these hazards. However, OSHA reports indicate that for the 2020 fiscal year, seven of the 10 most common citations issued by OSHA regulators to construction companies had to do with safety violations related to the Fatal Four. This demonstrates either an ignorance of the realities of their industry by construction employers or (worse yet) an indifference towards the safety of their workers. In any event, the failure to provide proper protection for workers may open such employers up to liability if and when accidents occur.