construction worker climbing on scaffolding at sunriseMore commonly known as the “Fatal Four” construction accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently begun referring to the biggest hazards on construction sites as the “Focus Four” in an effort to put a spotlight on the prevention of injury rather than a discussion of construction accident deaths. Whatever you call them, falls, caught in-between, stuck-by, and electrical accidents remain the most frequent causes of serious workplace injuries for construction workers in New York, New Jersey, and across the country.  

Construction employers are required to follow OSHA standards, as well as train workers on workplace safety, but construction sites are notorious for frequently violating OSHA regulations. Employers who violate these mandates can be held accountable when employees are injured on the job. Our construction accident legal team is here to help when you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an OSHA Focus Four accident—or any other accident on the job.

Most Common Fatal Accidents on NJ and NY Construction Sites

Year after year, injury and fatality statistics show that construction work is one of the deadliest occupations in the U.S. Accident data tells us that nearly 20 percent of all workplace deaths occur in construction and that over a third of those deaths were caused by falls. The construction industry accounts for nearly half of all fatal workplace falls every year.

The most common causes of injuries and deaths on building sites stay the same every year, earning them OSHA’s nickname. The Fatal Four or Focus Four accidents—in order from most to least frequent—are the following.


Falls are one of the most prevalent accidents on construction sites and can occur from elevated work areas, scaffolding, ladders, roofs, or other elevated surfaces. When fall protection measures are not properly in place, workers are at risk of severe injuries such as broken bones, fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and internal injuries. Non-fatal falls can lead to long-term disabilities, extensive medical treatment, and rehabilitation. Fall protection is the most frequently violated OSHA standard nationwide, while scaffold and ladder violations both appear in the top seven.

New York Labor Regulations require construction employers to take precautions to protect construction workers from fall injuries. For example, there are specific regulations about:

Struck By Object

Workers can be struck by objects such as heavy machinery, vehicles, falling tools, or materials. These accidents can occur due to inadequate signage, poor visibility, or improper storage of equipment and materials. Injuries resulting from being struck by objects can range from concussions, fractures, and lacerations to internal injuries, limb amputations, and organ damage. The New York Labor Regulations establish safety provisions to protect construction workers from these dangers.

Caught in and Between Objects

These accidents occur when workers are caught, crushed, or squeezed between objects, such as heavy machinery, equipment, or collapsing structures. Trench collapses and being caught in machinery are common examples. Injuries from caught-in and caught-between accidents include broken bones, crushed limbs, internal injuries, and severe organ damage. Survivors may require extensive surgeries, amputations, and ongoing rehabilitation. New York Labor Regulations require employers to protect workers from these dangers during construction, demolition, and excavation operations.

Electrocutions and Electrical Shocks

Electrocutions can happen when workers come into contact with live electrical wires, faulty equipment, or power sources. Electrical accidents can cause severe burns, cardiac arrest, muscle and nerve damage, and in the worst cases, fatalities. Even non-fatal electrocutions can lead to long-term nerve damage, chronic pain, and psychological trauma. 12 NYCRR 23-1.13 explains how electrical hazards should be handled on New York construction sites to protect construction workers from these dangers.

Construction Sites Have a Duty to Protect Workers

Understanding the OSHA Fatal or Focus Four is essential for creating a safer construction site environment. By identifying the causes of these accidents and the potential injuries they can lead to, employers and workers can implement effective safety measures to prevent such incidents. While fatalities are clearly the worst outcome, even non-fatal accidents from the Fatal Four can result in life-altering injuries and significant long-term consequences.

Prioritizing safety, providing proper training, using appropriate protective gear, and maintaining a vigilant awareness of potential hazards can help reduce the occurrence of these accidents and create a safer work environment for everyone involved in construction projects. However, when employers fail to take these measures, injured workers can seek compensation with the help of an experienced New York and New Jersey construction injury attorney.

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.