According to relatively recent government statistics, a little over one in five fatal workplace accidents involve construction workers. Moreover, among these construction accidents, there were four causes of accidents, dubbed the Fatal Four by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that stand out as leading reasons for workplace fatalities at construction sites.

The Fatal Four do not include construction worker deaths related to automobile accidents, and traffic accidents could well be the most common cause of construction worker deaths.

Among the Fatal Four, falls were by far the most common reason for fatal construction accidents, with them accounting for 38.7 percent of fatalities. The next most frequent cause of accidents were incidents in which a worker was hit by a falling or swinging object. These circumstances accounted for 9.4 percent of all deaths. Rounding out the Fatal Four were electrocution at 8.3 percent and injuries related to being pinned or crushed by heavy objects at 7.3 percent.

The sad thing is that the Fatal Four can be prevented, or their frequency reduced, when employers take the extra steps of creating a safe work environment for their employees. Insisting on and providing the right protective gear, creating sturdy scaffolding and other safety protections for employees who must work from heights, and other safety measures can all save lives.

For families in the greater Twin Cities area and other parts of Washington County who have lost a loved one due to a construction accident, help is available through Minnesota’s workers’ compensation system. Benefits available through this system include some coverage for the deceased employee’s lost income, as well as reimbursement for medical bills and funeral expenses.