Employment in the construction industry is a dangerous occupation. This profession is consistently ranked as one of the most hazardous vocations in America, and with good reason. This is why OSHA Focus Four training is very important. In construction, projects are often changing frequently, from the supplies which are transported, personnel switch shifts, and deadlines that are pushed back. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the reasons why construction fatalities reached a 12-year high in 2019.
Furthermore, as reported by statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ‘Fatal Four’ results in 545 worker fatalities in the United States every year. This “Fatal Four’ includes falls, electrical exposure, struck-by, and caught-in/between situations, which were accountable for 64% of all fatalities in the construction business back in 2016, still according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) periodically re-energizes its construction Focus Four program. This program aims to raise awareness of the construction industry’s most serious risks.
What is OSHA’S Focus Four All About?
The OSHA Focus Four, otherwise known as the OSHA Fatal Four, is a group of four hazard categories in the construction industry that fall under the umbrella of the OSHA 29 CFR 1926 set of construction standards . More than half of all fatalities on construction sites are caused by the Focus Four hazard categories. Hence, OSHA classifies the four major hazards in the construction business. The table below shows the ‘Focus Four’ arranged in the highest percentages of death:
NUMBER OF FATALITIES
In 2018, OSHA revealed its intentions to re-energize its Focus Four program. Intending to carry out safety and health training for companies and their employees, various organizations have collaborated with OSHA with its outreach efforts.
The Focus Four concept is used by OSHA to reach out to workers and employers and educate them about the dangers these hazards pose. The Focus Four program, as defined by OSHA, is essentially an awareness and education campaign that helps employers and workers in the construction sector recognize the most dangerous risks in their working environment. The activities include seminars and certification courses for workers to learn how to handle the risks associated with the Focus Four hazards.
Each of the Focus Four Hazards is covered in detail in the Construction Focus Four Training. Every lesson plan was created with specific learning objectives and outcomes. Trainers must organize the training around these learning objectives and execute the instruction using the participative training approach.
This entails setting up effective training methods. Moreover, trainers can use the assessments to evaluate each student’s understanding of the learning objectives.
OSHA’s Focus Four
According to OSHA, the majority of losses are caused by four hazards. Fall Hazards, Caught-In-Between Hazards, Struck-By Hazards, and Electrical Hazards are what OSHA refers to as the “Focus Four Hazards.” Here is an overview of some of the most significant details regarding the ‘Focus Four’ Hazards to have a better understanding.
1. Fall Hazards
The term “fall” refers to when a person falls from a height from any surface. A fall hazard is defined as anything that could cause a worker to lose their balance and fall. At a height of six feet or whenever a worker is operating over risky gear or equipment, safety equipment must be required in construction. Listed below are examples of fall hazards.
- Roof and floor openings
- Roof edges that are not protected
- The scaffold that was constructed incorrectly
- Unsafe ladders and even poor housekeeping
By practicing safe work procedures and wearing the necessary PPE, including safety footwear, workers can recognize and avoid fall hazards. Aside from these, the following should also be followed:
- Before performing maintenance, ensure to switch off the equipment.
- Keep out of the crane and other equipment’s swing radius.
- Procedures for lockout/tagout should be followed.
- Make use of properly guarded machinery.
- Never position yourself in the way of moving equipment and materials.
- Working in an unprotected trench must be avoided.
2. Struck-by Hazards
When a worker comes into contact with or is struck by an object or piece of equipment, a struck-by hazard exists. When an injury is caused only by impact, it is known as a struck-by injury. Any flying, falling, swinging, or rolling object, such as tools dropping from an elevated work station, insufficient rigging prompting a weight to fall, and vehicular traffic, can be a struck-by hazard.
By wearing appropriate PPE, such as high-visibility clothing, avoiding suspended loads, and following best safety procedures at all times, workers can protect themselves from struck-by hazards.
3. Electrical Exposure
In electrical exposure, there are two concepts namely electrocution and electric shock. Electrocution occurs when a person is exposed to a lethal amount of electrical energy. Electric shock, on the other hand, occurs when a body part comes into touch with any source of electricity that causes a current to run through the hair, muscles, or skin.
Electrical exposure can not be fully eliminated in a workplace. However, if workers are aware of the hazards such as contact with power lines, contact with electrical sources, and improper usage of extension and flexible cords, shocks and electrocution can be avoided.
Morever, ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) shpuld be utitlized. Portable tools and extension cords should also be inspected, recommended power tools and equipment should be used, and lastly, lockout/tagout protocols should be practiced.
4. Caught-In or Between Hazards
When a person is caught, squeezed, crushed, pinched, or pressed between two or more objects or pieces of an object, a caught-in or -between hazard occurs. Caught-in or between hazards is caused by the following factors:
- Unguarded moving machinery
- Trenches and excavations that are unprotected
- Working between moving materials and nontransportable structures
Caught-in or Between hazards are often caused by vehicles or equipment. Workers must recognize and avoid these hazards while being on the workplace.
What are the hazards in each Focus?
To better understand the Focus Four Hazards, listed below are specific hazardous conditions for each.
CAUGHT-IN OR BETWEEN HAZARDS
● Access equipment used Incorrectly
● Inadequately built walking/ working surfaces
● Slips and trips
● Unprotected sides, edges and holes
● Falling objects
➔ Rigging failure
➔ Lack of overhead protection
➔ Loose or shifting materials;
➔ Tipover or malfunction of equipment;
● Struck by flying objects
● Vehicle and equipment strikes
● Contact with overhead powerlines
● Contact with live circuits in panels
● Lightning strikes
● Poorly maintained cords and tools
● Equipment maintenance
● Rotating equipment
● Trench or excavation collapse
● Unguarded parts
Injuries Related to the Focus Four (Fatal Four)
According to Facilities and Services employees, over the past five years, there are multiple injuries as a result of the Focus Four Hazards. Enumerated below are the list of common injuries for each Focus:
- An employee stepped onto an unsteady elevated platform, causing him to fall. The employee’s shoulder, wrist, and arm sustained injuries.
- When an employee stood on a rotten wooden platform, it collapsed. Multiple injuries resulted from the employee’s fall from 12 feet high.
- When an employee fell off a chair that was being used as a stepladder, he fractured his wrist.
- While going down the loading dock steps, an employee stumbled and fell, injuring his ribs.
- While drilling overhead, metal particles got into one of the employees’ eyes.
- A piece of inadequately kept material struck an employee in the arm.
- A low-hanging fixture caused a cut to an employee’s head.
- While testing batteries, an employee came into contact with 128v DC.
- A transformer area gate was opened by another worker. Then, he came into contact with the transformer, which led to a shock.
- An employee’s finger came into contact with a prong while removing an electrical plug, causing a mild shock.
- When an employee was installing a breaker, the screwdriver he was using collided with the bus, injuring numerous people.
Caught-In or Between Hazard
- When an employee’s grip slipped, his fingers were crushed under a manhole lid.
- An employee dropped a tool while adjusting the tension of the belts on an exhaust fan. The wrench fell into the power switch, which activated the fan. The employee’s hand became entangled in the belt and was dragged into the pulley.
- An employee’s finger was crushed between the tire and the wheel as he or she was installing a tire to a wheel.
OSHA Focus Four: Wrap Up
Construction sites can indeed be extremely dangerous due to the tasks performed and the equipment utilized unless particular precautions are taken in terms of safety training and hazard prevention. The Focus Four are four common hazards identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as the cause of the majority of job site fatalities.
Understanding the “Focus Four Hazards” and learning how to avoid them is fundamental. Employees, supervisors, and managers can reduce the risk of serious injury or fatality in the workplace by learning how to recognize and prevent hazards such as electrical hazards, fall hazards, struck-by, and caught-in-or-between threats by taking OSHA Focus Four Hazard Awareness for Construction. The OSHA 29 CFR 1926 standard requires all employees on construction sites to undertake focus four training. This includes madatory on the job and worksite specific training in addition to OSHA Focus Four training online that you can take 100% free right here.