What Are OSHA’s “Fatal Four,” and How Can You Avoid Them?

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While you try to avoid all workplace accidents, some situations pose a greater threat than others. A light injury or some property damage represent one kind of negative consequence. The death of a worker exists in a totally different category.

As such, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, has designated its so-called “fatal four.” These are the safety hazards most likely to lead to a fatality. Any meaningful safety protocol should start with preventing these situations.

Falls

By far, the most life-threatening work situation comes from falls. According to OSHA statistics, this category accounts for 39% of workplace fatalities.

Not surprisingly, fall-related safety protocols also make up a significant number of safety violations issued by OSHA. Of the top ten most violated rules, fall prevention plays a role in four of them. This includes the number-one source of OSHA violations, called simply “fall protection, construction.”

So, the first step to preventing falls would be to make sure all safety protocols are in place and being followed all the time. Maintain rigorous control of dangerous situations, such as scaffolding and ladders.

Beyond that, keep the risk of tripping or slipping as low as possible. If something spills, clean it up quickly. Maintain a clear walkway in all work areas, free of clutter or obstacles. Make sure there is adequate lighting at all times.

Struck by Object

OSHA statistics show that about 8% of all workplace deaths come as a result of the victim getting struck by an object. That makes it a distant second to falls, but still a significant danger in its own right.

Store items properly. When stacking materials, maintain a sensible height. Don’t let piles of items become precarious. Meanwhile, if tools or other materials are stored above, make sure they are properly secured at all times.

Beyond that, make sure your workers have the proper gear to mitigate any injuries that might occur. Hard hats are a key example, but provide goggles or safety glasses where appropriate as well.

Electrocutions

Electrocutions account for just over 7% of all workplace deaths, according to OSHA.

Again, the key to prevention comes from maintaining the highest precautionary standards. OSHA lists three main factors that contribute to workplace electrocutions: 1) unsafe equipment; 2) unsafe environment; and 3) unsafe work practices.

Each of these items should be addressed. Immediately repair any equipment that becomes even theoretically dangerous (frayed wires, etc.). Keep workstations free from threatening situations (wire tangles, sparks, etc.). And provide thorough training for any workers who come in contact with electrical equipment.

Caught In/Between

“Caught in/between” refers to events where workers get stuck between two objects or get caught in a confined space. The danger comes from the body getting squeezed to the point where injury or death occurs. (The category also includes workers crushed by a collapsing structure or by falling material.)

OSHA statistics show that this danger contributes to just over 5% of all workplace deaths.

First, identify areas in your workspace where these kinds of situations pose a major hazard. Second, either take steps to lower the danger levels, or quarantine the hazardous zone from the rest of the work area.

Once the areas are set apart, workers should maintain their distance. Also, barriers and restricted areas should be observed at all times.

A vigorous safety regime starts at the front line: your employees. Well-trained and conscientious workers make a safe environment easier to achieve. How do you find these top-flight workers? A recruiter, like DHR, is a good place to start.

Contact DHR today to find out what they can do to update your safety profile.

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