Texas construction site accident points to danger of “fatal four”

An accident in Texas points to the danger of struck-by and fall events on construction sites.

A construction site can present a myriad of risks for workers. In fact, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has identified the "fatal four," which are the four events that cause the most deaths among workers in Texas and across the country.

A recent accident that resulted in a rush to the hospital illustrates several of the "fatal four." Understanding these dangers and knowing how to prevent them is key to keeping people safe.

The incident

In May of this year, a construction site worker was placing a pipe into a manhole at an expansion project at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Small Animal expansion project. According to KBTX, the pipe flew back at the worker, knocking him into the trench, which was 8 to 12 feet deep.

Firefighters employed the help of equipment to pull the man out of the hole. He was then taken to the hospital for face and head injuries.

Understanding the "fatal four"

In 2014, 874 people lost their lives due to an accident on a construction site. This accounted for 20.5 percent of all workplace fatalities that year. OSHA reports that there are four incidents that account for a significant number of construction site fatalities. Those include the following:

  • Falls: 39.9 percent of deaths in 2014
  • Electrocutions: 8.5 percent of deaths
  • Struck by events: 8.4 percent of deaths
  • Caught-in or caught-between: 1.4 percent of deaths

The incident in Texas illustrates two of these incidents: struck-by and falls. The man was struck by the pipe and then fell into the trench.

Preventing struck-by events

Though not every accident is preventable, many are. OSHA states that about 75 percent of events in which a worker is struck by something involves a piece of heavy equipment. Part of preventing an injury involves ensuring that workers are wearing the appropriate safety equipment, such as hardhats, goggles and face shields. Further, putting debris nets in place can keep items from falling onto workers.

Preventing falls

As the leading cause of deaths in the construction industry, falls deserve focused attention. OSHA suggests having the right equipment in place, such as fall arrest gear. Scaffolding and ladders must be appropriate for the job.

Lastly, all workers must be trained to know how to use their equipment correctly. Safety gear is only useful if a worker knows what he or she is doing with it. Employers must provide the appropriate training and information for every worker on every project.

Anyone who has concerns about this issue should consult with a workers' compensation attorney in Texas.