Construction is among the most dangerous industries in the country. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2014 showed 885 fatal on-the-job injuries, more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) calls the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites its Focus Four: falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught in or between. These four leading hazards are responsible for 71 percent of deaths and injuries in construction.
Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.
Hazards are categorized as:
- flying object
- falling object
- swinging object
- rolling object
For example, four workers were installing signs on a highway when a pickup truck changed several lanes and entered the work area. The truck struck one worker, knocking him off the road and over a bridge rail. He fell approximately 18 feet and died from his injuries.
Another example occurred when an employee was struck by a nail from a nail gun fired by another employee through a wall made of wallboard.
In another case, four workers were struck by an exterior wall while attempting to lift it in place. Three of the workers received bruises and contusions. One of the workers sustained a fractured leg and was hospitalized.
In 2014, 138 occupational fatalities were caused by struck-by hazards. To better prevent struck-by incidents:
- Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects.
- Stay alert of heavy equipment and stay clear of lifted or suspended loads.
- Check vehicles before each shift to ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition.
- Do not drive a vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view, unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker signals that it is safe.
- Wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to include eyes, face, head and high-visibility clothing.
Without losing sight of other workplace hazards, employers must pay attention to the Focus Four to further reduce the trend in workplace fatalities.
To mitigate these fatality statistics, OSHA and other professional safety and health organizations, both in the private and public sectors, are targeting these contributing factors. OSHA has developed training presentations, handouts and toolbox topics available on OSHA’s website. Other occupational safety and health resources available to you include your safety department, your industry association, accredited safety and industrial hygiene professionals or your local independent insurance agent.
The Cincinnati Insurance Companies
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Source of data for this article: OSHA and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.