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Top 4 Causes of Death in the Construction Industry

Construction worker using safety harness and safety line working on a new construction site project.

Construction is an inherently risky industry. Every project, no matter how small or large, comes with its own set of hazards, which can lead to serious and life-threatening injuries.

Construction jobs are complex. Job sites can quickly change, and large trucks, machinery, pieces of equipment, and debris are constantly being hauled to and from the work area. Multiple people working as contractors or sub-contractors for employers with different training and communication practices may be working together to complete a project.

Because of the many hazards that construction workers encounter, construction site accidents contribute to a disproportionate amount of workplace fatalities. According to OSHA, one in five worker deaths is in construction.

Fatal Four Construction Accidents

The four leading causes of death in the construction industry, sometimes referred to as “The Fatal Four,” are falls, being caught in or between objects, electrocutions, and being struck by an object.


Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for construction workers. Workers are most likely to fall from scaffolding, ladders, and roofs.

According to OSHA, 65% of the construction industry work while on scaffolds. When scaffolds are not erected or used properly, fall hazards can occur.

The majority of workers injured in scaffold accidents report the cause of the accident as either the support giving way, slipping, or being struck by a falling object. Small residential construction contractors are disproportionately affected by falls from heights.

Struck By Objects

The second-most common cause of death in construction is when something strikes a worker, such as a vehicle, machine, or falling object.

Many struck-by incidents involve cranes. A crane can overturn, collapse, or hit a person while moving, raising, or lowering a load. Crane loads can also suddenly fall, crushing anyone underneath.

Caught By/In Between Accidents

One of the most deadly construction accidents is when construction workers become caught in or between a machine or debris. Caught-by accidents can happen anywhere, the injured victim getting caught, crushed, squeezed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects. Such incidents include mobile machinery rollovers and cave-ins from unprotected trenches.


Contact with live wires is the most common reason for electrocution-related deaths in the construction industry. Live wires can occur in circuit breakers, control panels, light fixtures, transformers, and underground cabling.

Electricians and power line workers are not the only ones who can be affected. Laborers, mechanics, HVAC professionals, and roofers can also come into contact with overhead or underground lines.

Georgia Worker Fatalities Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 207 Georgia worker deaths in 2019, 47 deaths were involved with the private construction industry. Construction laborers and trade workers made up a large portion of these fatalities in construction and extraction occupations.

Events or exposure that led to these fatal construction accidents include:

  • Falls, slips, and trips (15)
  • Transportation incidents (10)
  • Contact with objects and equipment (9)
  • Harmful substances or environments (8)
  • Violence and other injuries caused by people or animals (5)
  • Fires and explosions (0)

Atlanta Construction Accident Attorney

As construction accident lawyers, we handle work injuries and fatalities involving falls, trench collapses, scaffold collapses, eclectric shocks/arc flashes, chemical leaks and explosions, faulty machinery, lack of construction safety equipment, and other potential hazards.

In most cases, construction worker deaths are due to lax safety standards enforcement, little to no training, and human error. Our construction accident law firm investigates the site and interviews witnesses to determine whether the construction accident death was preventable and if there was serious negligence involved.

If a loved one was lost and you need help pursuing a wrongful death claim for an Atlanta construction death, talk to one of our construction-site-accident lawyers today. Attorneys Gary Martin Hays and Sarah Jett wrote the best-selling book The Authority On Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia to help grieving families.

Contact us today for a free construction accident case evaluation.

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