When a person in California thinks of the type of job that poses a risk to one’s life, they may naturally think of jobs in the construction industry, and they would be right. Of the over 4,600 fatal workplace accidents in 2016, approximately 21 percent were in the construction industry. There were four major causes of death that were responsible for over 63 percent of fatal workplace accidents in the construction industry in 2016. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has coined the term the “Fatal Four” to describe these causes of death.
According to OSHA statistics, the primary cause of death in the construction industry in 2016 was falls, which accounted for 38.7 percent of construction worker deaths. Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4 percent of construction worker deaths. Electrocutions accounted for 8.3 percent of construction worker deaths. Finally caught-in/between accounted for 7.3 percent of construction worker deaths in 2016.
OSHA estimates that over 630 workers’ lives could be saved annually in the United States if the Fatal Four were eliminated. While this is certainly a lofty goal, it may not be entirely realistic. There will always be construction workers who, despite precautions, are killed on-the-job. And, unfortunately, there will always be employers or other parties who act negligently, leading to a construction worker death.
Some people may not realize that workers’ compensation benefits apply not just to workers who suffered an injury. In California, the survivors of workers killed on-the-job may be eligible for death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, workers’ compensation death benefits could at least help families stay afloat financially during a difficult time.