What is OSHA’s ‘Fatal Four?’
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the regulatory agency under the United States Department of Labor that inspects and examines workplaces. The agency is charged with ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for workers. This is done by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. The purpose of this agency is to minimize injury in work environments. It’s important to know learn as much information about health and safety standards as you can so that if you’re working in unsafe conditions, you can do something about it before you get injured.
OSHA’S Fatal Four and How to Prevent Them
Hazards exist in almost every workplace, and probably are present daily. Some injuries are due to poor working conditions, and others are simply bad luck and may not have been preventable. Over the years, OSHA has been able to identify the four leading causes of hazards and fatalities in the construction business. This is known as OSHA’s Fatal Four Hazards. The fatal four hazards include falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, and caught-in or caught-between situations. The more you know about these hazards, the better you will be able to keep yourself safe and report issues that might arise in your workplace.
Falls are the leading cause of construction-worker deaths, causing approximately 36.5% of all work-related fatalities in the industry. Falls often occur as a result of working at great heights with unprotected edges, holes, or scaffolding. Precautions must be taken to keep workers safe.
When construction workers working at a height above six feet, the following systems should be put in place:
- Guardrails should always be utilized to prevent falls
- Fall arrest systems, such as harnesses, to prevent the worker from hitting the ground should they fall
- Safety nets
- Use of signage around dangerous areas
- Workers should wear non-slip footwear
- Adequate lighting in and around the working area
Workers are faced with the risks of electrocution when working on construction sites. This can occur from exposed wiring in wet environments, poor electrical connections, and using defective or poorly maintained electrical machinery and tools.
To avoid this hazard, employers and workers should take the following steps:
- Identify and locate utilities prior to beginning any work
- Be aware of power lines – below and above ground – when using or operating any equipment
- Maintain adequate distance from all power lines
- Utilize ground-fault surge protectors
Struck By an Object
Injuries of this kind occur when a worker is hit by an object or piece of machinery. These accidents often occur due to rigging failure, loose or shifting materials, and equipment malfunctions.
Employers are required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and must ensure that workers adhere to all safety rules and regulations set forth by OSHA.
Employers are also mandated to take the following steps:
- Ensure that all workers and operators are qualified and trained
- Follow all OSHA requirements regarding heavy machinery and equipment
Caught-In or Caught-Between
Workers can become caught in or between machinery and other tools at work, leading to serious injuries and sometimes death in the workplace. These accidents often happen without warning, giving workers little time to prevent injury.
Workers can avoid being caught in or between objects by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Avoid entering an unprotected trench if is 5 feet or deeper. If this isn’t possible, never enter without appropriate protection
- Avoid wearing loose clothing that can get caught in machinery
- Ensure that all equipment is turned off when performing any type of maintenance
- Never be positioned between machinery or any moving objects
OSHA’s fatal four are often devastating to workers. If you were hurt on the job and need assistance, please contact us today to set up a free consultation with our Los Angels slip and fall lawyers.