What Are the Common Causes of Construction Fatalities?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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The most common cause of construction fatalities involves falls from ladders or stairs. Construction sites often feature several ladders or other raised structures on which workers will stand or walk while constructing a structure, so the probability of a worker experiencing a fall at some point is quite high. Other causes of construction fatalities include overexertion, impacts, crushing, and improper use of heavy machinery. The construction site is a dangerous place to work, but with proper safety precautions, incidents that lead to fatalities can be reduced or eliminated.

Any time a construction worker leaves the ground to work on a structure, the likelihood of construction fatalities rises. Scaffold structures are designed to help prevent accidents, but if the worker is not properly secured to the scaffold, or if the scaffold itself is not built properly, construction fatalities can occur as the result of falls. Harnesses are designed to protect workers from falls, and other equipment such as carabiners and webbing are used in conjunction with the harness to secure the worker. In some situations, however, it may not be possible to secure oneself to a solid structure; the worker is at a much greater risk of injury or death in this case.


Heavy machinery is often used at construction sites, and while construction fatalities resulting from improper use of heavy machinery are not as common as falls, they can still happen easily. Workers who are not trained to properly use heavy machinery should never attempt to operate any such vehicles or equipment, and all workers on site should be aware of the position of heavy machinery and be mindful of its use at all times. Safety equipment such as helmets, goggles, and ear protection should be worn at all times on the job site, and each worker should be trained in proper communication on the job site to prevent injuries or death.

Open pits are other common causes of construction fatalities. Digging into the earth is a common practice, and sometimes a worker is required to get inside a pit or trench in order to perform work tasks. The pit or trench can cave in if not supported properly, which means the construction worker can be buried. Injuries and death are common when cave-ins occur, and proper bracing techniques as well as digging techniques must be used in order to prevent such incidents from occurring.


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