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How avoiding the ‘fatal four’ can improve your construction site

Photo shows a worker on a construction siteYour employees are your number one asset on the job site, and taking a few moments to make certain the job site is safe and secure can go a long way towards productivity and can save you money in the long run.

According to the US Department of Labor, 806 workers were killed in 2012 while working on construction sites - the most fatal industry for that time span. Within these deaths, more than half are caused by what is affectionately referred to as the “Fatal Four.” The fatal four are the following in order of most deaths to least: falling, struck by an object, electrocution and being caught-in/between.

By eliminating the fatal four, 437 workers' lives would be saved annually.

Before you begin any new job, a risk assessment should be taken to identify any hazards that may effect employees while working. Consider the severity of the injury that can occur and have appropriate measures in place for all levels of severity.

When conducting a risk assessment begin with a three strep process to determine any risks to your employees:

  1. Look around: Take a good look at the construction site. What work are you doing there, what equipment is going to be used? What situations can arise where people can be harmed? Can non employees access the work site? Is there safe access to the site? Are there any flammable or hazardous chemicals used on the site (i.e. Acetylene torches) and how is it secured when not in use?
  2. Plan: Now that you know what hazards exist, now asses what the level of risk you are exposing your employees and you. Hazards can be put into three categories: High risk, medium risk and low risk. Find ways to address the high risk and medium risk situations to turn as many of them as possible into low risk.
  3. Communicate: Now that you know the hazards and you know the risks. It is time for you to communicate with your employees. Talk to your employees about each hazard and remind them of what needs to be done to make the work place secure for all.

A risk assessment is an important part of creating a safe working environment for your employees, but it doesn't stop there. The final step, communication is something we all need to work a little harder on.

Communication is a critical to the job site and safety. All employees should be responsible for their own safety and the safety of their co-workers. Make certain to label different hazards as required by law to ensure workers know what dangers are there. Before you begin a project take all employees on a tour of the job site and point out each of these hazards and get feedback from them.

Now that you have completed your risk assessment and have written down all potential hazards to your employees, understand that this is merely an initial assessment. Things are going to change on the job as the project evolves. The key is to keep communication lines open between yourself and your employees.

This can be vitally important, because even with the greatest preparation and numerous precautions taken, accidents can still happen. When an accident does happen; how the situation is handled could be the difference between life and death.

Consider appointing a safety officer for each of your departments and getting them first aid certified. When an accident occurs, seconds matter and they can direct other workers to call emergency support while they step in to render aid. This can be a strong blessing because in any emergency situation; a level headed voice that can clear up confusion and direct people to safety, is vital.

The fatal four claims too many construction workers lives annually and need to be stopped. By finding your high risk situations and turning them into low risk situations, making sure communication lines are always open and appointing safety officers who are first aid certified; you can have more safe and secure job sites to work on.

Author bio

Chris Nomis is a security consultant with many years of experience working with video surveillance systems and their integration into a successful security work flow. He writes on behalf of  Pro-Vigil. He can be emailed at

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