Construction worker wearing safety harness and safety line working at high place, construction fall accident

What are the OSHA “Fatal Four” Construction Hazards?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are four leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry. These are known as the “Fatal Four” hazards and include falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and being caught in or between objects. If you or a loved one have been injured at a job site, we can help. Contact our California construction accidents attorney today.

Most Affected Job Types 

In 2020, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries in the United States.  Many of the jobs that are subject to the “Fatal Four” hazards are in the following industries:

  • Construction Work
  • Extraction Work
  • Roofing
  • Carpentry 
  • Electrical Work 
  • Operation of Construction Equipment
  • Painting
  • Pipe laying, Plumbing, and Similar Work
  • Highway Maintenance 
  • Structural and Steel Work

According to OSHA records, 463 workers in California died in 2020 from occupational injuries. Of these, a significant amount was from what “fatal four” hazards. Ninety-nine were from falls, slips, or trips. Eighty-five were from exposure to harmful substances, like electrocutions. Fifty-two were from contact with objects and equipment.


Falls are a leading cause of all construction worker deaths. These injuries are often caused by a failure to have fall protection systems in place, improper scaffolding, faulty ladders, and more. OSHA emphasizes that three ways to keep workers safe include the implementation of guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, and safety nets. But, many job sites do not take these precautions.


Another leading cause of accidents is electrocution. OSHA categorizes electrocutions as exposure to harmful substances or environments. Common causes of electrocutions include improper extension cord use, contact with energized sources, or overhead power lines. De-energizing or simply maintaining a safe distance are the easiest methods to prevent electrocutions, but many job sites fall short here.

Struck By Objects or Being Caught in or Between Objects

Being struck by things and equipment is another cause of worker injuries and fatalities. Examples include tools falling on workers, being hit by airborne objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects. Workers can also be hit by equipment or vehicles where sight lines are often more limited. 

Job sites should be a safe work environment, but many employers do not take simple, easy steps to keep employees safe. They should provide workers with personal protective equipment and engage in safety training. There should be a system to check tools regularly to ensure protective guards are in place and are working correctly. Barriers should be firmly secured to avoid workers walking in dangerous areas.

Being caught in or between objects can lead to even more severe injuries than being struck by an object because workers can end up crushed or squeezed. Examples include being caught in moving parts of machinery due to loose clothing or a lack of safety guards. Job sites should offer regular safety training. Simple tips such as turning off equipment when engaging in maintenance or repairs can save lives.

Speak with an Attorney Promptly

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The time frame for bringing a personal injury claim in California is two years, with certain exceptions. Workers’ compensation claims must be filed in some cases within one year of the date of the accident. Our construction accident attorney understands the importance of promptly addressing your claim. Get in touch with our office today for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.