The ‘Fatal Four’ Cause More Than Half of Construction Deaths

At any construction site, a single error can result in serious injuries or deaths. Machinery can be defective or misused. Co-workers can leave holes uncovered. Protective gear may not be properly installed. Despite the limitless ways that construction accidents can happen, the many serious accidents have similar causes. In fact, more than half of fatal construction accidents have one of four causes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls these construction accidents the Fatal Four. They include:

  • Falls, which caused 35 percent of fatal construction accidents in 2011
  • Being struck by objects, which caused 10 percent of fatal accidents in 2011
  • Electrocutions, which caused 9 percent of fatal construction accidents in 2011
  • Being caught in or between objects, which caused 2 percent of fatal construction accidents in 2011

According to OSHA, eliminating these four types of accidents could save 419 workers’ lives each year.

Third-Party Construction Claims May Be Available

Construction workers who are injured on the job – whether through the most common accident causes or not – may generally seek workers’ compensation for their injuries. They may also be able to obtain additional compensation through a civil claim. These civil claims are filed against third parties whose negligence or wrongdoing contributed to the workers’ injuries. Successful third-party claims may result in more compensation than workers’ compensation benefits would provide.

In one ladder accident case, an electrician was working for a contractor on construction of a new weight room at the former Shea Stadium in Queens. He stood on an 8-foot A-frame ladder as he worked on electrical service to the weight room. According to a lawsuit filed later, the ladder rested on plywood, and there were 12-inch steel I-beams and pieces of gravel the size of golf balls scattered around the floor.

The plywood shifted as the worker came down the ladder, and he fell. His head hit concrete, and his body landed on large gravel pieces and metal beams. He filed suit against the Mets, which played at Shea Stadium, for failing to provide him with a safe place to work and failing to warn him of the dangerous conditions. After a 2012 trial in front of a judge, the worker and his wife were awarded $3.85 million. The accident happened in 2003.

In another case, a mechanic installing duct work fell through a hole in a building under construction. He suffered a herniated disk, which required a laminectomy, discectomy and fusion, a rotator cuff tear that required surgical repairs, and a knee sprain. He sued the general contractors for the project, alleging that they had failed to provide a safe place to work and failed to warn of danger. He won a $1 million verdict.

Contact An Attorney

As OSHA statistics show, falls like these are common causes of construction accidents. If you have fallen from a ladder or scaffolding, fallen through a hole during building demolition, or been injured in some other way, you may be able to file a third-party claim. The situations in which a third-party claim can be filed are not always obvious. An experienced attorney can assess your case and explain your options.