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Construction workers versus the Fatal Four

Construction safety experts call them the "Fatal Four" - Falls, electrocutions, struck by object, and caught-in-or-between. These are the leading cause on on-the-job fatalities in the construction industry and reducing or eliminating these hazards could save 431 lives a year nationwide. A new ranking of the greatest workplace threats shows that job-related driving accidents and workplace violence kills more people than any other cause, most of them older men.

In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, 49 Connecticut employees were killed at work, an increase over previous years. Nationwide the number was more than 4,500. The U.S. Department of Labor says many construction accidents are caused by workplace safety violations. In the construction industry, scaffolding accidents and falls are the most common result of these violations, followed by respiratory injuries, electrical accidents from improperly locked out equipment, forklifts and other industrial truck accidents, and ladder mishaps.

Workers whose job involves driving, from truck drivers to sales people driving on sales calls, are most likely to die on the job. The Labor Department says 39 percent of fatalities are vehicle-related. Surprisingly, workplace assaults and violence are the second-leading cause, at 18 percent of fatalities. Plain old falls, - off ladders, down stairs, from vehicles and from structures - accounted for 635 deaths. Men die on the job the most often. Ninety two percent of victims are male, and men over 65 are three times as likely to be killed at work as younger people. For the record, fishing accidents kill proportionally more people than any other occupation, so those crabbers really are taking chances.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is supposed to keep employers on their toes through regular safety inspections and penalties for violating safety rules. But OSHA has an impossible task; it must keep an eye on eight million job sites nationwide. In 2010, inspectors managed to get to only about 41,000 of those sites, an inspection rate of 0.005 percent. Employers who put their workers' safety at risk know the chances of being caught are small.

Source: Huffington Post, "The deadliest jobs in America," Drew Guarini, Aug. 22, 2012

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