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What are the most common causes of workplace fatalities?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

Employers have a responsibility to provide safe working environments for their employees. Since the 1970s, working with employers to provide safe environments and holding them accountable has resulted in fewer workplace fatalities.

Nevertheless, workplace accidents still cause death. Some accidents are more likely to result in fatalities than others. EHS Daily Advisor describes the types of workplace accidents that most often result in death. Because of their inherent dangers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration refers to them as the “Fatal Four.”

Compression by objects or equipment

Approximately 2% of all workplace fatalities occur when an employee becomes caught in a piece of equipment or between two large machines or moving parts. If an employee dies from the collapse of a structure he or she was working in, such as a building or a trench, it is part of this category as well.


Electrocution is responsible for approximately 9% of all workplace fatalities. It frequently occurs on construction sites due to contact with power lines or exposed wiring. However, it can also occur in other types of workplaces due to lightning strikes or poorly maintained extension cords.

Strike from an object

A work-related vehicle collision that results in a fatality would fall into this category. However, workplace fatalities can also occur due to shifting materials, rigging failure or swinging objects. A strike from an object is responsible for approximately 10% of all workplace fatalities.


The most common cause of workplace fatalities is falls, accounting for approximately 36%. In many cases, these involved falls from tall objects, such as roofs, scaffolding or ladders.

OSHA imposes regulations that employers must follow to prevent accidents and make workplaces as safe as possible. Employers who do not comply may face fines or other penalties, but unfortunately, it may take an accident for someone to report the noncompliance.

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