Construction Site Safety: The Top 4 Killers


yellow and black road concrete block, with slow-down sign in front

Anyone who has sat through one of my safety training classes or weekly safety meetings knows that I repeatedly discuss the “top 4 killers in construction” or the “Focus 4 Hazards”.

OSHA has recognized four construction hazards that are responsible for the majority of financial, physical, and emotional losses in the construction industry. OSHA’s Focus 4 Hazards are:

Fall Hazards that occur on a job site are a severe, chronic problem in the construction industry and are present on every Tocci job site. A fall hazard is anything at a worksite that could cause workers to lose their balance or lose bodily support and result in a fall; any walking or working surface can be a potential fall hazard. This year Tocci has implemented a mandatory 6’ fall protection policy for all subcontractors including steel erection and scaffolding operations. According to OSHA, falls from heights are the leading cause of fatalities in construction, while falls on the same level are one of the leading causes of injuries.

Caught-in or between hazards are defined by OSHA as injuries that result from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object. Some working conditions that especially contribute to caught-in or between hazards include:

  • Unguarded moving machinery
  • Unprotected excavations and trenches
  • Working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles, or equipment

Struck-by injuries are produced by contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment. Struck-by hazards are caused by flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, or rolling objects.

Electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of death among construction workers in the United States. According to OSHA, the top three types of electrocution hazards in construction are contact with overhead power lines, contact with energized sources, and improper use of extension and flexible cords. An electrical hazard can be defined as a workplace occurrence that exposes workers to the following dangers:

  • Burns
  • Electrocution
  • Shock
  • Arc Flash/Arc Blast
  • Fire
  • Explosions

According to a previous OSHA study, OSHA found that 85% of all citations, 90% of dollars applied as fines, and 79% of all fatalities are related to these four construction hazards. OSHA has developed a Construction Focus 4 Module in addition to the already existing OSHA Construction Outreach Program that requires a mandatory training topic in the 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA Construction Outreach Training Program classes.

By implementing focus 4 hazard prevention and awareness practices on Tocci projects, we not only ensure compliance with OSHA’s standards, but we also reduce job site hazards and the potential for serious accidents.