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Preventing Fatalities from OSHA's "Fatal Four"

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration keeps a careful record of workplace injuries and fatalities in order to help make workplaces safer. Through years of study, OSHA has found that there are four types of accidents that lead to far more fatalities than all others, which they have dubbed the “fatal four.” These four types of accidents are:

  • Electrocution
  • Falls
  • Struck-by accidents
  • Caught-in or caught-between accidents

Each of these types of accidents is a serious threat in many different types of workplaces, particularly in industries that involve working around heavy machinery or high voltages. However, nearly every workplace could expose workers to at least some level of risk.

Protect Yourself Against These Accidents

Whether you are a worker, manager, or business owner, it’s in your best interests to do everything in your power to reduce the risk of workers being involved in fatal accidents. Not only can a little bit of extra precaution and additional safety steps go a long way towards saving someone’s life, but it can even prevent injuries and ensure a safer and happier place to work.

Here are a few things you can do to combat each of the “fatal four” accident types and improve your workplace safety record.

Electrocution Accidents

Electrocution is any injury caused by an exposure to too much electrical voltage or current. This usually occurs with workers who work near exposed electrical lines, with electricity in an area where water or other conductive materials may be present, or when working with high voltage and poor insulating or protective equipment. Make sure all workers who handle electricity in any form, such as working with exposed wires or with high-voltage equipment, are properly trained on how to handle it and that the work areas are clean, dry, and free from any potential hazards. Likewise, make sure all electrical equipment is regularly inspected and repaired if it shows any signs of wear and tear jeopardizing its integrity.

Fall Hazards

Of all of the “fatal four” accident types, this is by far the most common. Falls occur in nearly every workplace, and falls from greater heights often lead to greater injuries, including fatalities. Any occupation where workers perform their duties at height presents a fall hazard, including workers who use tools to elevate themselves like ladders or lifts.

Fall protection involves having the proper safety measures in place, including things like guard rails, fall harnesses, and more for workers who are in a particularly risky situation or are working high off the ground. Workers should also be trained in how to properly work when their feet leave the ground, such as how to stand and walk on a ladder, particularly when also carrying or using tools.

Struck-by Hazards

Struck-by accidents is when a worker is struck by something, be it a piece of debris, equipment, something falling from height, a moving vehicle, or really anything else you might find in a workplace. Struck-by injuries are particularly common in occupations with a number of moving machines, such as in factories, automotive work, and more.

The best way to avoid struck-by injuries is to have a clear and precise plan for how different parties navigate in a workplace. If you have moving machinery in an area, make sure there is a clearly-marked walkway for workers to pass. Likewise, make sure that any potential hazards that might strike a worker are properly secured and that employees receive proper training to avoid these hazards. Furthermore, make sure workers who drive or operate heavy machinery know how to do so correctly and always do so in a way that’s safe and low-risk to those around them.

Caught-In or Caught-Between Accidents

A caught-in or caught-between accident is when someone becomes caught in or between heavy objects, an object and the floor or wall, or a piece of machinery in a way that causes them severe injury or death. In most cases, this involves either a heavy object suddenly coming loose from a restraint or piece of equipment supporting it, or someone’s clothes or hair getting caught on a moving part, pulling them into the machine itself.

There are two things workplaces can do to dramatically cut down on these accidents: always keep workers away from danger areas when heavy loads are being moved, such as staying away from vehicles, and always make sure that workers are properly dressed when working around moving machinery, including keeping any loose clothes and hair tied back and removing any jewelry that could become caught.

Have you been injured a result of any of these types of accidents? Call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today at (866) 675-4427 for a case evaluation!