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"Fatal Four" still cause more than 60% of construction deaths

Every year, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, a report dedicated to examining the number of fatal work injuries suffered in a number of industries, including construction.

Unfortunately, the most recent report is not any better than the previous year's report -- and in many instances, even worse, particularly for construction workers.

For example, as we pointed out in another recent blog post, there were 991 construction fatalities in 2016, the most recent year for which information is available. Not only does this death toll represent a nearly 6 percent increase from the year before, but construction fatalities accounted for more than 20 percent of all work-related deaths in private industries during 2016 -- making it the most deadly occupation.

Fatality totals also increased across the board for many of the most common causes of construction deaths, including the "Fatal Four." In fact, while the percentage of construction deaths linked to the "Fatal Four" stayed roughly the same -- around 64 percent -- the actual number of deaths increased for each, according to OSHA:

  • Falls from heights: 384 construction deaths in 2016, but 364 deaths in 2015, a 5.5 percent increase
  • Hit/Struck by objects: 93 construction deaths in 2016, but 90 deaths in 2015, a 3.3 percent increase
  • Caught-between/in accidents: 72 construction deaths in 2016, but 67 deaths in 2015, a 7.5 percent increase
  • Electrocutions: 82 construction deaths in 2016, but 81 construction deaths in 2015, a 1.2 percent increase

To put these numbers in perspective, the lives of more than 630 construction workers could be saved in a single year if just these four hazards were eliminated. Sadly, though, these construction dangers will likely remain for the foreseeable future, especially since some contractors and property owners continue to skirt or outright ignore various safety regulations.

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