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Construction Workers Must Beware of OSHA’s Fatal Four

January 30, 2019 | Michael Barasch

Construction Workers Must Beware of OSHA’s Fatal Four

Construction work anywhere is inherently dangerous, causing serious injuries and claiming the lives of workers. In New York City, unfortunately, the number of construction workers killed on the job has been rising steadily. In 2016, the last year for which reliable data on construction-related deaths in New York City is available, 71 workers died. This marked an increase from 55 deaths in 2015. And the fatalities for each of those years were the highest total in the city since 2002. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists four major categories of work accidents that claim the most lives. Known as the Fatal Four Hazards, these are falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and being crushed between equipment — and all are hazards found on construction sites.

Because we have seen the terrible consequences of construction accidents, we want to present these recommendations by OSHA for contractors and construction workers to prevent fatal worksite accidents.

Falls are the deadliest construction accidents, particularly when the victim falls from one level to another. To prevent falls, OSHA offers these suggestions:

  • Wear and use personal fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Use ladders and scaffolds safely.

High-voltage current is a deadly hazard. To prevent electrocutions, workers should:

  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
  • Maintain a safe distance away from power lines and know the safe distance requirements.
  • Avoid operating portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

Construction sites are busy areas where heavy objects are routinely hoisted and moved. To prevent getting slammed by a heavy load, OSHA suggests:

  • Never positioning yourself between moving and fixed objects.
  • Wearing high-visibility clothes near equipment/vehicles.

An inordinate number of construction workers have been killed in trench collapses in recent years, the type of accident OSHA categorizes as “caught in-between.” Recommended precautions include these:

  • Never enter an unprotected trench or excavation five feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place; some trenches under five feet deep may also need such a system.
  • Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.

Our personal injury attorneys fight for injured construction workers. However, we are also determined advocates for safe workplaces, and we urge workers to assert their rights under the law. [ln::firm_name] represents injured workers throughout New York City. If you’ve been hurt in a construction accident, call us at [ln::phone] or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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