A Closer Look at OSHA’s Fatal Four Construction Hazards

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers fight for the rights of workers injured by the fatal four.Construction workers face a range of serious workplace hazards every time they show up at the construction site. However, some hazards are more dangerous and can cause more injuries and fatalities than others. For many of their workplace injuries, construction workers can file for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), four workplace hazards were responsible for over half of all construction fatalities in 2016. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Fatal Four” include falls, struck by object, electrocutions, and caught-in/between accidents.

By recognizing, evaluating, and controlling these hazards, hundreds of lives can be saved in the construction industry each year.

Understanding the Fatal Four Hazards

The following provides an overview of the common conditions leading to each hazard:


  • Unprotected sides, edges and holes
  • Poorly constructed walkways and work surfaces
  • Incorrect use of access equipment
  • Failure to use personal fall arrest systems
  • Slips and trips

Struck-By Accidents

  • Falling objects caused by loose or shifting material, rigging failure, lack of overhead protection, or equipment that has tipped over or malfunctioned
  • Vehicle and equipment accidents
  • Struck by flying objects

Caught-In or -Between Accidents

  • Trench or excavation collapse
  • Rotating equipment
  • Unguarded parts
  • Equipment maintenance failure
  • Equipment rollovers


  • Contact with overhead power lines or live circuits in panels
  • Poorly maintained cords and tools
  • Struck by lightning

Fatal Four Statistics

In 2016, 4,693 workers suffered fatal workplace injuries in the private industry, 991 of which were in the construction industry. In other words, approximately 20 percent of worker deaths that year were in construction. The Fatal Four hazards were responsible for close to 64 percent of construction fatalities.

The BLS estimates that 631 workers’ lives would be saved each year if these Fatal Four hazards were eliminated from construction sites.

The Fatal Four Hazards are also on the top 10 list for most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in FY 2017, which included the following:

  • Fall protection, construction
  • Hazard communication standard, general industry
  • Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  • Respiratory protection, general industry
  • Control of hazardous energy, lockout/tagout, general industry
  • Ladders, construction
  • Powered industrial trucks, general industry
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
  • Fall Protection, training Requirements
  • Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry

Focus Four

OSHA has developed the Construction Focus Four Training Packet, which raises awareness of the leading hazards in the construction industry, and provides lesson plans on each of the Focus Four Hazards.

During the training process, instructors must use the learning objectives developed by OSHA, and follow the participatory training model. Instructors must also apply effective training techniques. Testing material is included, which measures each student’s knowledge of each of the learning objectives.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Construction Workers Injured on the Job

If you have been injured in a work-related accident involving one of the Fatal Four hazards, contact the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. as soon as possible. Our skilled legal team will secure the maximum financial benefits you deserve and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the claims process. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 888-999-1962 or contact us online.