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OSHA safety campaign focuses on construction's 'fatal four'

OSHA has developed the Focus Four Hazards campaign to address serious safety hazards in the construction industry. The "fatal four" are falls, caught-in-between incidents, struck-by incidents and electrocution. Construction employees and employers alike in Pennsylvania will want to know what they can learn from this new program.

Construction deaths accounted for one in five worker fatalities in 2016, according to OSHA. The numbers reflect a need for greater adherence to construction best practices; however, this cannot be accomplished without proper communication between employers and employees.

As part of its campaign, OSHA is hosting awareness months for each of the four hazards from March to June. These are held in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. OSHA also keeps the conversation going with employees and safety representatives via toolbox talks.

Many of the region's employers have already incorporated those talks into their own monthly safety meetings while others include an OSHA representative in the meetings. Some estimate that the Focus Four Hazards program, with its formalized training and materials, can help prevent at least 600 construction worker deaths a year.

At the moment, though, construction fatalities are still on the rise. Some say that this is due to the eagerness of some employees to take risks on the job, which can result in unsafe procedures, especially on ladders and scaffolding.

Workers who injure themselves through their own errors may still be covered for their medical expenses and a portion of the income they lose. All they have to do is file a workers' compensation claim. This involves showing that the injuries are work related. Claims can be denied, so victims are encouraged to get legal representation. If they are already receiving benefits, they could request a commutation of compensation and receive a lump-sum settlement.

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