Construction is among the most dangerous industries in the country. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2014 showed 885 fatal on-the-job injuries, more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) calls the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites its Focus Four: falls, electrocution, struck by and caught in or between. These four leading hazards are responsible for 71 percent of deaths and injuries in construction.
The number of fatalities involving being caught in or between hazards in the private construction industry has decreased by about 26 percent since 2009. The largest decrease has been in excavation or trench cave-ins. However, in 2014, 36 construction fatalities still occurred as a result of such hazards.
Workplace risks that could be classified as caught-in hazards include:
- Cave-ins (trenching)
- Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment; this includes strangulation as the result of clothing caught in running machinery and equipment
- Being compressed or crushed between rolling, sliding or shifting objects, such as semitrailers and a dock wall, or between a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering
To help mitigate these risks:
- Use machinery that is properly guarded.
- Use other methods to ensure that machinery is sufficiently supported, secured or otherwise made safe (for example, de-energize equipment and use lockout/tagout and blocking procedures.)
- Use protection to prevent being pinned between equipment, materials or other objects.
- Avoid entry or work in unsafe excavations and allow work only after inspection by a competent person.
- Seek and take advantage of safety training opportunities.
- Take extra precautions and considerations before entering into confined or enclosed spaces.
Without losing sight of other workplace hazards, employers must pay attention to the Focus Four to further reduce the trend in workplace fatalities.
To mitigate these fatality statistics, OSHA and other professional safety and health organizations, both in the private and public sectors, are targeting these contributing factors. OSHA has developed training presentations, handouts and toolbox topics available on OSHA’s website. Other occupational safety and health resources available to you include your safety department, your industry association, accredited safety and industrial hygiene professionals or your local independent insurance agent.
The Cincinnati Insurance Companies
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Source of data for this article: OSHA and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.