How to Avoid OSHA's Fatal Four Construction Hazards

How to Avoid OSHA’s “Fatal Four” Construction Hazards

Christopher Collier

Christopher Collier

Search Engine Strategist

Christopher Collier is the Search Engine Strategist with Vivid Learning Systems, an online safety training provider making life a little easier for safety professionals. We want to make sure your workers stay safe out there.

In the construction industry, certain hazards are present every day on the job site.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the four leading causes of fatalities in the construction industry – known as OSHA’s “Fatal Four Hazards” or "Construction Focus Four Hazards".

The Fatal Four Hazards consist of falls, electrical exposure, struck-by and caught-in/between situations, and result in 545 worker fatalities in the United States every year.

Fall Hazards - How To Put On A Fall Protection Harness The Right Way

Falls are the number one killer of construction workers on the job.

The different heights at which fall protection is required are:

  • 6 feet - General fall protection
  • 10 feet - Scaffolds
  • 15 to 30 feet - Steel erection

If a worker is performing a job above one of the heights mentioned above, one of these systems must be in place:

Make sure to identify fall hazards such as holes in platforms and unguarded edges before work begins.


One of the top ten most cited OSHA standards; electrocutions are the second deadliest fatal four construction hazard. That’s why OSHA has a specific regulatory standard for safety training and electrical work.

Here are some safe work practices for live electrical work on the jobsite:

  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
  • Maintain a safe distance away from power lines.
  • Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double insulated.
  • Use ground-fault surge protectors.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

Struck-By Object/Hazard

A struck-by hazard is anything at a worksite that could produce injuries by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.

The difficulty with protecting workers from flying objects is that they may not be participating in the work that causes the object to fly.

Workers need to make sure coworkers follow the safety rules outlined by OSHA and the employer, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the worksite.

There are four Struck-by hazard categories:

  • Flying object
  • Falling object
  • Swinging object
  • Rolling object

OSHA requires employers to protect workers from struck-by hazards. Employers are required to:

  • Meet all heavy equipment, motor vehicle, and general requirements included in OSHA standards
  • Provide proper PPE, like wearing high-visibility clothes near equipment/vehicles.
  • Provide required training for equipment and vehicles
  • Ensure qualification of operators, riggers, signal persons, and competent persons


Trench and excavation cave-ins, and workplace accidents where workers are pinned or caught-between machinery or fixed structures, often happen suddenly and without warning.

To avoid being caught in or between objects:

  • Never enter an unprotected trench 5 feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place
  • Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.
  • Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects

Want more information on how to avoid becoming a Fatal Four Hazard statistic? Watch our safety tip video below.