ClickCease The Most Common Cause of Construction Fatal Injuries
09/23/23   |   By

What Is the Most Common Cause of Fatal Injuries to Construction Workers?

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Construction Work Fatalities

While workplace fatalities can happen to anyone, at any time, it is no surprise that a large percentage of workplace deaths occur on construction sites. While construction jobs increased by 25% in the last decade, we have also seen construction fatalities steadily increasing as well.

If a construction worker was killed on a construction site, their family may have the rights to compensation. The Regan Zambri Long catastrophic construction accident lawyers understand what you and your family are going through and we are here to help. Our expert construction accident attorneys will investigate the accident, determine liability, and hold those parties accountable. Call today for a free consultation to get your claim started.

The Fatal Four Leading Causes of Construction Deaths

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a U.S. Department of Labor agency that inspects and examines various American workplaces. In 2019 alone, OSHA reported 1,061 construction deaths, making up 20% of all workplace fatalities for that calendar year. Approximately 1 in 5 workers killed in 2019 were construction workers.

OSHA’s reports cited the leading causes of construction worker fatalities, now known as “The Fatal Four.” The top reason for construction worker deaths are:


Construction workers falling is the number one cause of worker fatalities. Oftentimes, the work is done at elevated heights, such as multiple- story houses, office buildings, and skyscrapers. While a slip and fall on solid ground can cause serious injuries, a fall from hundreds of feet in the air will likely be deadly. Many falls are preventable and only happen because of the negligence of others. The most common reasons for construction falls are:

  • Unprotected edges and openings: Unguarded holes, wall openings, or edges are extremely dangerous on construction sites. To protect their workers, contractors and construction companies should put up safety nets or guardrails around any openings.
  • Improper portable ladder use: Positioning the portable ladder is crucial to the construction worker’s safety. All new construction employees should be properly trained on how to use portable ladders on a construction site.
  • Unsafe scaffolding: Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support the construction crew while working on buildings, bridges, and other structures. Scaffolding without guardrails, or faulty scaffolding that gives way with the weight of the construction workers can result in falls from elevated heights.

Struck-by objects

Construction sites are filled with an enormous amount of dangerous objects – from demolition debris, such as hardware, brick, and cement to massive equipment, like cranes, saws, and other heavy machinery. About 11% of fatal injuries are a direct result of a construction worker being struck by an object at the construction site. Common ways a construction worker can be struck and killed by objects include:

  • Falling/Flying objects: These objects are more likely to be hazards if the construction site has multiple levels, like a skyscraper. Workers may push or pull objects that become airborne. Machinery and debris may fall from heightened work stations
  • Rolling objects: These objects can be construction vehicles, such as cranes, forklifts, and trucks. They can also be vehicles driving by if the construction site is on a road or highway.
  • Concrete/masonry walls: If permanent supports are not in place, if a wall is not built properly, if the concrete hasn’t fully dried, or if the lifting devices give way, they can fall and strike a construction worker causing catastrophic injuries and even death.
  • Contractors and construction companies must properly train their employees on how to use all equipment. They must also make sure they maintain their equipment so it is in pristine condition at each site. Construction workers should wear high- visibility clothing and never position themselves in-between moving and fixed objects.


Construction sites often have live electrical power lines running through. In addition, electrical wiring, tools, and machinery all increase the chance of electrocution, shocks, or electrical burns. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that of the 325 contract worker electrocutions that happened between 2012-2016, 77% involved workers in the construction industry. Electrocutions can occur for several reasons:

  • Power lines are improperly or inadequately grounded
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Contact with power lines
  • Contact with other electrical sources (circuit breakers, junction boxes, transformers, and control panels)

Contractors and construction companies can keep their workers safe from electrocution by:

  • Comply with OSHA electrical safety standards.
  • Know the location of overhead and underground power lines on the construction site.
  • Form a method to ensure all circuits are de-energized before turning on equipment.
  • Make sure all electrical equipment is grounded or double insulated.
  • Inspect tools before use for wear and tear. If they are damaged, do not use them.
  • Keep metal objects away from electrical circuits/parts/lines.

Caught-in or -between objects

OHSA defines being caught-in or in-between objects as being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment. This includes the construction worker being strangled as a result of clothing getting caught in moving machinery or equipment. It can also mean being crushed or compressed between objects that are rolling, shifting, or sliding. These accidents may occur because of:

  • Unguarded moving parts
  • Unprotected excavations and trenches
  • Heavy equipment falling over
  • Collapsing walls
  • Working in between moving objects and immovable structures

Contractors and construction companies can protect their workers by using machinery that is properly guarded and fully training their workers on how and when to use equipment and machinery. Individual construction workers should also take precautions to protect themselves – never stand in between a moving object and an immovable structure.

Other Common Causes of Construction Workers’ Injuries

Besides the Fatal Four, construction workers face many other hazards that can prove to be deadly:

  • Transportation collisions
  • Exposure to chemicals and other toxic substances
  • Heat exhaustion or stroke
  • Workplace violence or assault

If you are the family member of a construction worker who lost their life due to any of the following injuries, contact a Regan Zambri Long construction accident lawyer today. We offer free initial consultations to discuss all possible legal options and we do not take a fee unless a settlement or verdict is reached in your favor.

Finding the Best Washington, DC Construction Accident Lawyer

Regan Zambri Long attorneys group photoWhile you are not obligated to obtain counsel when you submit a claim in a construction fatality case, it is very beneficial to have a legal advocate by your side. After the loss of a loved one, you and your family must cope with a new normal and navigate a new way of life. Medical bills and funeral expenses are costly. If your loved one contributed to the household financially, you will have to pay for those costs without his or her income.

Let our construction accident attorneys bear the burden of the claims process so you and your family can look ahead and start rebuilding your life. We will investigate the accident, the construction company, the equipment manufacturer, and the property owner to determine who is liable for your loved one’s death. After we know which parties are responsible, we will hold them accountable. Our construction accident lawyers will work to recover the maximum amount of damages for you and your family, including medical expenses, lost income, funeral and burial costs, and loss of consortium.

We cannot change what happened to your loved one, but we will work tirelessly to give you peace of mind that justice has been served and you are financially compensated. Call today for your free consultation with a seasoned construction accident lawyer to get the process started.

Regan Zambri Long
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