Preventing the "fatal four" in Brooklyn construction sites

There are four main types of fatal incidents that occur on construction sites, each of which can be prevented through taking the right measures.

In 2014, 78 people lost their lives due to work-related incidents in New York City. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry had more fatalities than any other, with 22 people dying that year. The majority of those deaths were due to falls, slips and trips.

These statistics are in line with national trends regarding construction site accidents. Fortunately, they are preventable through taking the following measures:

1. Preventing falls

As the Occupational Safety & Health Administration notes, falls on construction sites are responsible for more deaths than any other incident. In 2014, these events accounted for 39.9 percent of all the industry's work-related fatalities.

As grim as those numbers may be, these accidents are highly preventable. OSHA recommends the following:

  • Planning the safety equipment necessary for jobs performed at heights, including those costs in the initial budget
  • Providing fall protection equipment, including scaffolds and ladders
  • Training workers to use the equipment

Not only should workers know how to safely complete tasks at a height, but they should also be able to spot the warning signs of imminent danger.

2. Preventing electrocutions

In 2014, electrocutions caused 74 deaths, or 8.5 percent of all deaths on construction sites, OSHA reports. To avoid an accident, workers must be able to recognize common hazards, such as faulty wiring, overhead power lines, exposed electrical components and damaged insulation. Upon finding a hazard, a worker should also know what to do to address it.

Workers who could potentially be exposed to these threats should have safety gear including insulating clothing, rubber gloves and hardhats. Electrical tools should always be inspected before use. Lastly, every site should use a fast-acting circuit breaker to pick up on any imbalances in the electrical current.

3. Preventing struck-by

Struck-by events occur when a flying object, moving vehicle or masonry wall hits a worker. According to OSHA, these accidents caused 8.4 percent of construction deaths in 2014. To prevent a tragedy, workers should never put a vehicle in reverse if their view is obstructed. Parking brakes should always be used, and vehicles should never be overloaded.

Wearing proper safety gear, such as hardhats and safety glasses, can keep a worker safe from falling objects. If a load is in the process of transportation via a crane or other overhead machine, workers should clear the area.

4. Preventing caught-in or caught-between

While caught-in or caught-between accidents only accounted for 1.4 percent of all construction site fatalities, they are still incidents that are highly preventable. OSHA suggests that workers avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could become pinned inside a machine. Safety guards should always be in place when a machine is in use. Additionally, people who work in trenches should ensure that the proper preventative measures have been taken, such as using shoring, sloping or a trench box.

In New York, when an accident occurs on a construction site, the employee may be entitled to workers' compensation. However, if labor laws or construction codes were broken, there may be additional legal recourse a victim can take. Anyone who has questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.