As we turn the calendar to a new year, it’s important to once again remind ourselves that what we do can be dangerous. IEC is committed to helping electrical contractors stay healthy and safe by providing resources from reputable public sources and IEC safety leaders to help you strengthen your organization’s safety focus.
Focus Four Hazards
The four leading causes of construction site deaths are:
- Struck-by object
Research indicates that the focus four hazards, or fatal four, account for around 60 percent of construction worker fatalities. Preventing these deadly hazards would save hundreds of lives each year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 4,764 workers killed on the job in 2020. This means that a worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury in 2020.
On average, more than 35 percent of construction site fatalities result from falls. Despite these statistics, fall protection in the construction industry continues to be the most frequently cited OSHA standard violation. A failure to follow state and federal safety guidelines results in countless construction accidents every year. The following are the most common types of falls:
- Falls from stepstools, ladders, scaffolds, sidewalk sheds, baker scaffolds, ramps, and any other type of elevated platform. Oftentimes these platforms are not safe because they are unguarded, unlevel, collapse, move, or have missing parts.
- Falls into holes, trenches, off the side of buildings, or improperly guarded edges. These falls can occur from the lack of safety railings, coverings, and/or personal safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, yo-yos, and anchor points.
The NORA Construction Sector Council National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Construction Sector Council (Sector Council) is undertaking a number of initiatives to increase awareness and prevention of struck-by hazards, including developing infographics like these.
Approximately 10 percent of construction workers are killed annually due to being struck-by an object or equipment. As reported by the BLS, 468 workers were killed as a result of being struck-by an object in 2020. According to OSHA, the four most common struck-by hazards are being struck-by a flying, falling, swinging, or rolling object.
Types of struck-by object accidents include:
- Struck-by powered non-transport vehicle
- Struck-by falling object or equipment, oftentimes while being hoisted or lowered
- Struck-by discharged or flying object
Employers are routinely cited for failing to adequately secure and guard heavy machinery that is common to construction sites.
Electrocutions are believed to be the cause of 7 to 9 percent of construction worker deaths each year. Insufficient training and a failure to follow proper safety protocols are generally to blame for these fatal accidents.
Finally, an estimated 5 to 6 percent of construction site fatalities occur because an employee becomes caught-in or stuck between two objects. Examples of caught-in/between hazards include collapsing structures or equipment, unguarded running machinery, and material that traps or pins an employee.
Be sure to check out the IEC safety web page for updates and more information over the coming months.
NORA also is launching a National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-by Incidents (April 17-21, 2023). Additional information on how to prevent struck-by incidents is available on ieci.org/safety and through The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).