The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled a list of the four leading causes of fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry. The leading cause was falls, followed by electrocutions, struck by object and caught-in/between.
There were nearly 4,609 fatal work related injuries in the U.S. during 2011, according to the data just recently released by OSHA. Even though this is down slightly from the 4,690 fatalities recorded in 2010, the harsh reality is that approximately 90 workers are killed on the job every week. This means that there are roughly 13 deaths per day. The bottom line is that 13 workers will go to work on any given day and never come home.
The OSHA report revealed that the "Fatal Four" causes of worker fatalities were responsible for more than half of all worker deaths. Three out of five, or 57% of all construction worker deaths, resulted from falls (35%), struck by object (10%), electrocutions (9%) and caught-in/between (3%). The conclusion is that by eliminating the "Fatal Four," the lives of 410 workers could be saved each year.
According to the statistics gathered by OSHA, the age group most likely to suffer from a fatal on-the-job injury was for workers between the ages of 20 and 24 years of age. That age group had an increase of 18% over 2010, rising from 245 in 2010 to 288 in 2011. Interestingly, fatal female worker injuries went up slightly in 2011 and declined by two percent for male workers, 4,234 in 2011 from 4,322 in 2010. Older workers, age 55 or higher, work fatalities were down.
Amazingly, in 1970 there were 38 worker fatalities every single day. That is nearly three times as many as in 2011. The decrease in worker fatalities by more than 65%, when the employment numbers in the U.S. have nearly doubled, over four decades is nothing less than incredible.
Without a doubt, construction sites are dangerous places to work. There are usually many different trades on the job performing their specialties at the same time, including cranes and other heavy equipment, 18-wheelers, cement mixers and concrete pump trucks. The possibilities of being injured are endless and workers have to be aware of the danger that surrounds them.
Fall prevention measures such as cleaning up debris to prevent falls, using safety netting, guardrails and harnesses can save lives. Make certain all "hot" power lines are clearly marked so workers will avoid them and make sure all power tools are grounded to prevent electrocution. Wear protective hard hats and reflective vests to avoid being struck by falling objects or caught-in/between heavy equipment. And most of all do not allow anyone to tamper with or disengage the backup beepers on heavy equipment, no matter how annoying they are.
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