OSHA’s Fatal Four and How To Avoid the Deadliest Construction Hazards

Construction Accident Cases in New York City

Construction remains one of the riskiest industries in the U.S., with more workplace deaths than any other sector as of 2022 according to the National Safety Council. The most dangerous construction site accidents are what’s known as the Fatal Four: falls, electrocutions, struck-by accidents, and caught-in/between accidents. 

If you’re a construction worker who suffered an injury or a bereaved family member who lost a loved one to a workplace hazard, consult a Queens construction accident lawyer. You are likely entitled to compensation but may need legal help to claim the maximum damages. 

What Are the Fatal Four?

Every construction accident lawyer in Queens knows the answer to “What are the Fatal Four?” The deadly quartet of falls, caught-in/between accidents, electrocutions, and struck-by accidents claims lives and leads to many construction injuries every year. 


Per CDC data, falls are responsible for over one-third (36.4%) of work-related fatalities in construction. Falls often happen when construction laborers work at heights, such as on roofs, scaffolding, and ladders. Poorly constructed scaffolding, tripping hazards, and lack of fall protection may cause catastrophic accidents. Unprotected excavations and trenches are another common hazard.

Struck-By Accidents

Struck-by accidents include any incident in which a fast-moving piece of equipment or another object strikes a worker. These accidents may involve moving vehicles, falling tools or construction materials, and unguarded power tools. A struck-by accident can happen when workers walk near a swaying suspended load.


Electrocutions on construction sites may happen because of live power lines, hazardous extension cords, exposed wiring, and the use of electric power tools without proper precautions. Electrocution may cause burns or cardiac arrest, which is often fatal.

Caught-In/Between Accidents

Becoming caught in or between heavy moving objects is a serious concern for construction workers. This can happen if, for example, a worker stands between a wall and a moving vehicle or machine. These accidents cause a range of crushing and compression-type injuries. 

Making Construction Sites Safer for Workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 1,000 construction and extraction laborers lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2022. Preventing many of these tragic fatalities with appropriate safety equipment and workplace protocols may be possible. For example:

  • Using fall protection, like personal fall arrest or guardrail systems, anytime a construction laborer works six feet or higher above ground
  • Securing loose tools, materials, and equipment
  • Periodically checking all equipment to ensure it’s in proper working order
  • Double-insulating or grounding electrical tools
  • Erecting barriers to keep workers away from hazards like a suspended load
  • Training workers to avoid dangers like positioning themselves between two heavy objects

Can You Sue Your Employer for OSHA Violations?

If you believe your injury happened because of your employer’s or manager’s carelessness, you may ask whether you can sue your employer for OSHA violations. As a Queens construction accident lawyer may tell you, the answer is usually no. You can report safety standard violations to OSHA, and OSHA may impose sanctions on your employer, but you won’t receive a monetary reward for doing this.

Instead, following state labor laws, you should file a claim through the workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation provides benefits to injured employees on a no-fault basis and covers damages like medical bills and lost wages. 

However, you may also have grounds for a negligence-based personal injury lawsuit if a third party’s actions led to your construction accident injury. For example, if you fell because your protective harness snapped, you may be able to sue the equipment manufacturer. 

Available Compensation for Construction Workers and Their Families

Workers’ compensation covers the following for injured construction workers in NY:

  • Medical costs, including surgery, medications, hospital stays, medical devices like wheelchairs, and travel to and from medical appointments. Remember that the Workers’ Compensation Board must approve all healthcare providers for non-emergency treatment.
  • Cash benefits amounting to as much as two-thirds of your weekly wages. This applies if your injury is serious enough that you can’t work. 
  • Permanent disability benefits, depending on the severity of your injury and your maximum medical improvement (MMI). 
  • Rehabilitation programs that could help you return to work after your injury, like physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and career guidance if you can no longer work in construction.
  • Death benefits for family members of workers who passed after a construction accident. Spouses, surviving children, and other eligible dependents may claim these benefits, which include funeral costs and weekly payouts. When there are no dependents, the decedent’s estate may collect a lump sum of $50,000. 

What To Do After a Construction Accident

What should you do if you suffered an injury while working on a construction site? The following steps will help protect your health and your rights to workers’ compensation. 

  1. See a doctor, even if you feel almost fine. Many injuries, like TBIs and internal organ damage, may show symptoms gradually. Let a healthcare provider assess your condition, and strictly follow any treatment recommendations. 
  2. Let your employer or supervisor know about the accident. You must do so within 30 days, and a delay could jeopardize your right to claim benefits. Your employer must then report the accident to their insurer and the Workers’ Compensation Board.
  3. Save all evidence, including your medical records, photos of the accident scene, and witness statements. You’ll need these for your insurance claim.
  4. Contact a Queens construction accident attorney. Working with a lawyer is crucial if you’re facing a large claim after a catastrophic injury or if you think you may also file a third-party lawsuit.

Contact a Queens Construction Accident Attorney Today

Did you sustain an injury while working on a construction site? You must learn your rights and know how to choose the right personal injury lawyer. Contact Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates, PC, to understand what compensation you may expect as an injured worker and how to proceed with filing a claim.

Call (718) 205-1010 24/7 or complete our online form for a consultation with a Queens construction accident lawyer.