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Keeping Maryland construction workers safe from the 'Fatal Four'

It comes as no surprise to hear that construction work exposes employees in Maryland to many workplace hazards. Some hazards stem from the machinery workers use, while other hazards stem from the conditions under which the employee is working. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration has coined what it refers to as the "Fatal Four" when it comes to construction fatalities.

 According to OSHA, in 2012 19.3 percent of all workplace fatalities occurred in the construction industry. Out of those, 54.2 percent were caused by what the agency has termed the "Fatal Four": falls, electrocutions, being hit by an object and being caught-in/between accidents.

 

Specifically, deaths related to falls topped the charts at 34.6 percent of construction deaths in 2012. Electrocutions accounted for 8.1 percent of construction deaths that year. Being hit by an object resulted in 9.8 percent of construction deaths in 2012 and being caught-in/between accidents accounted for 1.6 percent of construction deaths in 2012. In fact, OSHA reports that if incidents related to the "Fatal Four" were completely eliminated, it would save the lives of 437 workers in the United States annually.

These are significant numbers that employers should take note of. Workplace accidents will happen, but the best way to ensure that workers are kept safe in the first place is to take preventative measures. Workers should be provided with goggles, hard hats and other protective clothing and safety equipment when necessary. Procedures should be in place to ensure workplace safety when workers are working off the ground, such as providing employees on ladders or on scaffolding with safety harnesses, and ensuring that employees know where "drop zones" are on construction sites. Proper training on heavy machinery can also go a long way toward preventing accidents.

In the end, employers are responsible for providing their employees with a safe place to work. However, when a worker is injured on the job, they do have a means of recourse at their disposal -- workers' compensation benefits. These benefits operate similar to an insurance policy, to provide workers with the compensation they need to cover medical expenses and lost wages incurred due to a workplace accident. Employees looking to file for workers' compensation may want to discuss the matter with a professional so they can get started on the right foot.

Source: osha.gov, "Commonly Used Statistics," accessed on July 13, 2014

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