In any industry that makes use of powerful equipment and requires employees to work outdoors, there are bound to be some major hazards and risks. For the construction industry in particular, OSHA has identified 4 construction hazards that are responsible for the majority of physical, financial and emotional losses. What OSHA calls the “Focus Four Hazards” are Fall Hazards, Caught-In-Between Hazards, Struck-By Hazards and Electrical Hazards.
The first hazard, fall hazards, are present at most worksites on a daily basis. Anything that could cause a worker to lose balance or bodily support and result in a fall can be considered a fall hazard. Falls from heights are the leading cause of deaths in construction and falls on the same level are one of the leading causes of injuries. For this reason, workers must be able to recognize and avoid fall hazards along with wearing the appropriate work boots.
The second hazard is the caught-in-between hazard. When a person becomes caught, squeezed, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects or parts of an object, the caught-in-between hazard is to blame. Unguarded moving machinery, unprotected excavations and trenches, working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles or equipment are all considered caught-in-between hazards. Workers must learn to identify these hazards and avoid them while on the job.
The third is the struck-by hazard in which a worker is injured by contact or impact between the person and an object or piece of equipment. For a stuck-by injury, it is the impact alone that causes the injury unlike the caught-in-between injuries. A struck-by hazard can be any flying, falling, swinging or rolling object like falling equipment loads and faulty overhead power lines. Workers can protect themselves from struck-by hazards by wearing the proper PPE and always using the best safety practices when working around or operating heavy equipment and vehicles.
Electrical hazards are the fourth hazard in OSHA’s “Focus Four”. Electrocutions are the fourth leading cause of death among construction workers. When a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy, the result is electrocution. In order to avoid electrocution, workers must be mindful of hazards such as contact with power lines, contact with energized sources and improper use of extension and flexible cords.
It is essential for employers to train employees in the Focus Four Hazards so that workers can understand the hazards and learn how to avoid them. Awareness of the hazards as well as their prevention can help those working in the construction industry cut down on injuries and fatalities.