Construction Industry "Fatal Four" Leading Causes of Fatalities

Construction Causes of Fatalities Gerald Brody Attorneys San Diego

Construction workers spend their days laboring on hazardous worksites to improve existing infrastructure and build new developments. While some of their duties are relatively easy, most are extremely dangerous. Working on elevated platforms and operating heavy machinery are daily occurrences for most construction workers, and exposure to electricity adds to the risk for injury. Construction accidents can result in minor injuries like bruises, lacerations, a dislocated shoulder, or a broken bone. Unfortunately, though, many construction accidents are fatal.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the four leading causes of death in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.” The majority of construction accidents responsible for worker deaths are falls, struck by an object, electrocutions, and caught in or between. 5,147 construction workers died as a result of job-related injuries in 2017 - that’s more than 14 deaths every day.

Here’s a closer look at OSHA’s Fatal Four leading causes of fatalities in construction:


According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of construction deaths; they accounted for 381 out of 971 total construction fatalities in 2017. Anything at a construction site that could cause a worker to lose his or her balance and fall is considered a fall hazard, including unprotected roof edges, improper scaffold construction, and unsafe portable ladders. The primary cause of fall fatalities on construction sites is falling from a roof. Safety training and fall prevention systems can greatly reduce these types of construction accidents. Unfortunately, fall protection was the number one most frequently cited OSHA violation in 2018.

If you believe your employer has failed to provide adequate fall protection and promote a safe work environment, you can report your complaint to OSHA.

Struck by an object

A struck-by injury happens when a construction worker makes forcible contact or impact with an object or a piece of equipment. Struck-by hazards include flying, falling, swinging, or rolling objects. For example, a bucket of bricks that falls from an elevated surface can result in a fatal injury to a worker standing below. Similarly, a worker who is struck or run over by a moving vehicle can be seriously injured or killed on the job. While employees should always exercise caution and wear protective gear, employers have a responsibility to assess hazards on a construction site and comply with OSHA safety guidelines to mitigate injuries.


Construction workers often work around strong electrical currents and live wires. Electrical hazards can result in many different types of construction accidents, including burns, shocks, fires, and explosions. While any of these accidents can be fatal, OSHA’s Fatal Four specifically refers to electrocution, which is what happens when a worker is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy. This could happen if a worker is tasked with moving an aluminum ladder and it accidentally comes in contact with overhead power lines. Other major electrocution hazards in construction include contact with energized sources, like damaged or bare wires, and improper use of extension and flexible cords.

Caught in or between

Caught in or between injuries happen as a result of being crushed between objects. These can occur when a construction worker’s clothing becomes caught in running machinery or equipment, or when a worker is crushed between rolling, sliding, or shifting objects, like a trailer and a dock wall. Cave-ins of unprotected trenches and excavations as well as collapsed scaffolds are also considered caught in or between injuries. Employers are required to provide guards on all equipment with moving parts and take measures to prevent workers from being pinned between objects.

If your loved one was killed in a caught in/between or another of OSHA’s Fatal Four construction injuries, we strongly advise you to contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

Has your loved one died in a fatal construction accident? Call a San Diego construction site accident lawyers

It is devastating to receive the news that a loved one has suffered a fatal construction accident. The following days, weeks, and months can be extremely difficult as you are left to process your grief while supporting your family. At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, our goal is to make the healing process a bit easier.

Our San Diego construction site accident lawyers will help you file the proper paperwork on time so you can collect workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for funeral expenses and lost income. Call us today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.