OSHA Focus Four

Definition - What does OSHA Focus Four mean?

The OSHA Focus Four, also known as the OSHA Fatal Four, is a group of four hazard categories that exists in the construction industry.

The Focus Four hazard categories are collectively responsible for more than half of all fatalities that occur on construction sites. They include fall hazards, electrocution hazards, struck-by-object hazards, and caught-in or -between hazards. OSHA uses the Focus Four concept as a means of outreach to workers and employers to educate them on the extent of the dangers these hazards pose.

Safeopedia explains OSHA Focus Four

The most prevalent cause of death in the construction industry is death due to falls, which may account for more than 30% of construction industry deaths within a given year (e.g. 38.7% in 2016). Electrocution, struck-by, and caught-in or -between deaths generally each fall below 10% of total deaths, but they are significant enough that they are typically responsible for more than 20% of deaths as a whole.

The Focus Four hazards can be identified as follows:

  • Fall deaths refer to instances in which an individual falls from any surface at height. In construction, safety equipment is required at a height of six feet or wherever a worker is working over dangerous machinery or equipment (e.g. an impalement hazard such as rebar).
  • Electrocution deaths refer specifically to instances where an individual is exposed to a lethal amount of incident energy.
  • Struck-by deaths refer to employees being struck by flying, falling, rolling, or swinging objects. Falling equipment such as tools, or improperly used tools such as nail guns, are examples of struck-by hazards.
  • Caught-in or -between deaths are deaths in which a worker is crushed or compressed by an object, machine, or environment. They include trench collapses, being pulled into machinery due to caught clothing, and being pinned by vehicles.

OSHA’s Focus Four program should be understood as primarily being an awareness and education campaign that provides employers and workers in the construction industry with a way to easily understand the most dangerous hazards in their workplace. The campaigns include talks as well as certification courses for training workers to manage the risk posed by the Focus Four hazards.

In addition to its status as an awareness tool, the Focus Four program is also related to OSHA’s enforcement activities. Violations of OSHA rules related to the Focus Four hazards are very common, and seven of the top 10 most-common workplace violations cited by OSHA in 2017 were Focus-Four-related.

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