In 2009, preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that there were 816 fatal on-the-job injuries to construction workers—more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year. Also in 2009, private industry construction workers had a fatal occupational injury rate nearly three times that of all workers in the country.
And thus, construction safety became one of OSHA’s top concerns, and has remained as such ever since. Over a decade later, construction inspections comprise over half of OSHA’s total inspections, and much of that attention is given to the four leading causes of fatalities in the industry—known as the Focus Four Hazards: Falls, Caught-In or -Between, Struck-By, and Electrocution.
Even still, according to a report based on data gathered over a ten-year period from 2011-2021, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) recently revealed that around two-thirds of the 10,700 construction worker deaths across that period were a result of Focus Four-related injuries. Drilling down further, falls to a lower level accounted for over 53% of those.
And while OSHA demands a high standard for safety, the reality is that construction worker deaths and injuries have not gone down over time. During the time of the CPWR study, construction site injuries alone rose by 41%, and deaths held steady.
In response to its findings in 2009, OSHA developed a robust set of Construction Focus Four Module training materials—a program still in use today. The Module was developed in support of OSHA’s effort to help workers in the construction industry understand the hazards they face and know what their employer’s responsibilities are regarding protecting workers from workplace hazards. The module is required to be used in both the 10- and 30-hour OSHA Construction Outreach Training Program classes.
Construction Focus Four Training consists of lesson plans on each of the Focus Four Hazards—each plan developed based on specific learning objectives. Trainers must use these learning objectives when planning the training, and follow the participatory training model when conducting the training, which includes applying effective training techniques. Trainers may also utilize the tests provided to measure each student’s knowledge of the learning objectives (although that testing is not required and must not be counted toward the required student contact hours).
During the training, authorized outreach trainers will find that the materials present detailed content in a participatory format to enhance the effectiveness of their sessions.
The overall training packet includes:
- Materials: Instructor/student materials for the four lessons: Fall Hazards, Caught-In or -Between Hazards, Struck-By Hazards, and Electrocution Hazards. For each of the lessons, there is an Instructor Guide with lesson test, PowerPoint presentation file(s), and student handouts (e.g., job aids, checklists) as developed. A related construction safety video can be found on the OSHA website or ordered as a DVD—titled “Construction Safety: Choice or Chance.”
- Trainer Requirements/Planning: The Focus Four Module is mandatory for both 10- and 30-hour construction outreach courses. Trainers should plan to use the materials as follows: 10-hour course = 4 hours minimum (because most construction fatalities are caused by fall hazards, falls must be covered for at least one hour and 15 minutes). The other focus four hazards must be covered for a minimum of 30 minutes each. With the 30-hour course, six hours are minimum (trainer can determine time of each lesson using the 10-hour course estimates as the minimum time required).
An additional general construction reference trainers should become familiar with is OSHA’s Construction Industry Digest. This booklet contains standards most frequently overlooked by the employer and standards covering particularly hazardous situations in construction. Copies are available for download at www.osha.gov/Publications.
Ultimately, trainers are also encouraged to check www.osha.gov regularly to ensure they have the most current OSHA published information.