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What Is OSHA’s Fatal Four?

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets regulations that help protect workers in the United States from injury and death. However, every job comes with risks. 

OSHA has identified the four main accidents that contribute to the highest number of workplace deaths: falls; being struck by an object; electrocutions; and being caught in or between. These are known as the Fatal Four.

What Is OSHA’s Fatal Four?

Understanding the Fatal Four 

Workplace fatalities are unfortunately common in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 4.764 fatal work injuries occurred in 2020. This amounts to one worker death every 111 minutes. 

By following OSHA guidelines, employers can dramatically reduce the risk of workplace fatalities and limit the time that injured employees spend away from the job. However, some types of workplace accidents are more dangerous than others.


Falls are one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities. According to the BLS, falls, slips, and trips contributed to 805 fatal accidents in 2020. 

These accidents can involve falls on the same level; falls to a lower level; falls from collapsing structures or equipment; or falls through surfaces or existing openings.

Serious injuries can result from a fall, such as broken bones, spinal cord damage, and traumatic brain injuries. It is very common for these injuries to be fatal.

Being Struck by an Object

Heavy machinery, falling debris, building materials, and many other objects can strike a worker who is on the job. BLS data shows that being struck by an object or equipment contributed to 468 deaths in 2020 alone.

Some of the most common types of objects involved in these accidents include powered, non-transport vehicles; falling objects and equipment; and discharged or flying objects. As a result, workers can suffer from severe trauma that damages internal organs. 


Electrocutions occur when a person comes into contact with a live electrical current, resulting in his or her death. In 2020, exposure to electricity resulted in 126 deaths. 

Electrocution is dangerous because of how it impacts the body internally. Although it may leave no visible marks, it is common for victims to suffer cardiac arrest or organ damage. 

Being Caught in or Between

Being caught in or between objects and equipment resulted in 142 worker deaths in 2020. Approximately 89 of these accidents involved running equipment or machinery.

When a worker is caught or compressed by objects or equipment, his or her body can suffer serious damage. Internal organs can be ruptured, bones can be broken, and the spinal cord can become severed. These injuries are often fatal.

What to Do If You Lost a Loved One at Work

A workplace fatality can have a devastating impact on the employee’s family. Not only do you need to cope with the emotional impact of the loss, but you may suffer from financial consequences as well.

If you lost a loved one due to a workplace accident, your family may have options to recover compensation. While no amount of money could ever take away what happened, you could file a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit to recover death benefits, funeral expenses, and other losses.

To learn more about your legal options, speak to a Washington wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you and your family understand what to do next.