OSHA’s “Fatal Four”

In order to promote workplace safety and prevent employees from getting hurt, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is constantly updating regulations and releasing new information about risks. Each year, they release statistics about common violations and fatality reports seen among different industries. One of their most pressing matters is “The Fatal Four.”

Although it might sound like a death metal band name, this list is actually in regard to the four most common reasons for fatalities in the construction industry. As the industry that makes up the most deaths and violations, it is no wonder that they have its own OSHA list.

While taking a look at these risks, workers and supervisors can become more aware of how crucial it is to protect themselves and the others around them. The best way to take action against fatalities is with proper training and by taking OSHA compliance courses from Hard Hat Training. Supervisors can ensure that their employees are ready for the job by having them take these classes before handling their next project.


As expected, a construction site is full of high areas. Whether on top of a building working on a roof or on a second-floor platform, workers can risk slipping to the ground at any time. Fall prevention actually leads among all of OSHA’s common workplace violations.

For many, one of the reasons falls are so commonplace is that they are not using the proper safety devices. Even lower heights have their own OSHA regulations set in place. There always needs to be some safety device, like a net or guardrail, so that there is some protection if a fall does occur. Workers should also be given gear like harnesses as another measure of security.

Ladders and scaffolding are both also common problems when it comes to falls in construction. While many may think ladders are easy to use, they have to be in proper condition before use. This includes being slip-resistant and consistently spaced rungs. Both they and scaffolds also need to be locked in place so that they are not at risk of falling over, especially while in use.

Workers also need to be sure that they are using this equipment correctly. Whether going up or down ladders, they need to be facing the rungs and not going backward. They should also be sure to use something other than scaffolds, like ladders, as they are not as sturdy or carry the same weight.


Construction sites are more than just full of workers. They are also filled with different heavy machines like bulldozers and excavators. Because drivers are working from tall heights, they might only sometimes notice the people nearby and can easily run one over. Even if the vehicle is not being driven, it can still prove dangerous if they are lifting or moving objects.

To start, all drivers should be properly licensed to work on the machines they are tasked with. This is not only legality, but it ensures that they will not use the vehicles carelessly. Communication can also be vital, as they can warn others when they are coming onto a specific area via a walkie-talkie.

Other workers can protect themselves in a few ways, as well. Having the right gear, like hard hats, will keep their heads safe in case something like debris falls from a machine or building. Having bright colors, like fluorescent orange, can also make them more visible for machine drivers as they come through the site.

If they notice a machine coming through, they should make sure that they steer clear of going near them. Even if they don’t think they will be in the way, machines can sometimes be erratic and go off their normal path due to something as simple as a change in the wind.


In order to make room for different buildings or to get rid of obstructions, excavators often dig up trenches on construction sites. If other workers are not aware of them, they can easily get caught in them and become stuck. Many of these holes can be deep and are not easy to climb out of. This specific mishap actually made up for 5% of construction fatalities in 2019.

There must be signs up near trenches or excavation sites to warn workers before they step on the scene. Putting up guards or fencing can also prove to be a great safety precaution. It can be easy to cover up trenches accidentally, so obstructions should also be kept out of the way.

Caught-ins also cover workers who become trapped or pinned in close spaces due to machinery. This occurs whenever a machine or other type of equipment is not properly shut off or locked, leading to them moving in on someone. Machines should never be left unattended for this reason. Drivers should also make sure there is no one nearby when moving in toward a fixed object.


Whenever working on a building, electricity is sure to be needed to provide these places with power. Both engineers and electricians are on site to work on these dangerous components. However, electric fixtures like power lines may already be established in the area and, because they are not visible, can cause damage to any worker. Hitting a line or improperly working with wires can cause shocks, burns, and explosions.

Supervisors should also call the electric company to make sure that power is shut off on the site whenever performing tasks like excavation. This will keep machines from striking a line and causing injuries and fatalities. Those working near electricity should also be given heavy-duty gloves and goggles in case they touch a live wire.

Electric tools also need to be handled with care. This means using them only in dry conditions and ensuring they are grounded or properly insulated. If a worker notices that there is something off about a tool, they should let a supervisor know immediately and never try to use them. Worn wires can lead to injury.

Taking OSHA Courses

Having a list labeled as “fatal” means that construction workers need to take their jobs as seriously as possible. There is a lot to be done in a project, and being safe is just as important as completing it. The easiest way to comply with OSHA regulations is by taking classes that teach you how to do so.

If supervisors want to ensure their whole crew is ready to take on tasks securely, they can utilize the courses given by Hard Hat Training. Knowing the risks that the construction industry holds, Hard Hat Training has material covering a wide range of topics, even ones specifically tailored towards those “fatal four.”

Workers can get the chance to take classes online or with an expert coming onsite to provide materials. After completing the course and taking an exam, they can be deemed by their management whether they comply with the regulations enough to get their job done safely.

Along with these specific courses, all members of a construction crew can take classes that focus more on dealing with emergencies, such as preparing them for first aid and CPR. While the classes do not deem anyone as “qualified,” it better prepares them to do their job and lower the risks of fatalities.

Although the construction industry can prove dangerous, not every site has to prove a hazard. With the right precautions and awareness, your team can get projects done on time and without hurting someone. To find out more about courses offered by Hard Hat Training, visit