So-called struck-by hazards are one of the “big four” types of dangers at construction sites, along with fall, caught-in/caught-between, and electrical hazards. These four hazards are the most common causes of death and injuries on construction sites. Year after year, struck-by mishaps account for approximately one-fifth to one-quarter of construction worker fatalities.
Construction companies are required by OSHA to take a number of precautions to protect their workers from struck-by risks, as well as the other types. Here’s a little more information about this serious concern, as well as some tips to help keep yourself, your coworkers, and/or your workforce safe.
What Are Struck-By Hazards?
The name “struck-by” is fairly self-explanatory, referring to incidents in which a person is directly hit by an object or a piece of equipment at the job site. These accidents may be similar to caught-in or caught-between hazards, and there’s sometimes confusion between the two classes of injuries; however, they are not the same thing.
The most important point of distinction is whether the injury is caused by impact from one object or piece of equipment. If so, it is a struck-by event. For more explanation about caught-in and caught between hazards, see this article.
Workers may be struck by:
- Falling objects, such as tools dropped or knocked off scaffolding, dislodged materials being hoisted, or pieces of an elevated structure or item breaking off
- Flying objects, such as detached machine or tool attachments or objects sent hurtling under pressure
- Swinging objects, such as heavy equipment arms or attachments, or materials being swung around by a machine
- Rolling or sliding objects, including being hit by a vehicle, when the impact doesn’t result in the victim becoming caught under the vehicle (which makes it a caught-between accident)
Safety Tips for Struck-By Hazards
- All workers should wear hard hats, safety goggles, reflective material, and other personal safety equipment at construction sites as needed
- Place barriers and/or warning signs at points of potential struck-by hazards
- Make sure there’s adequate lighting inside structures and around the job site at night
- Check tool and light equipment attachments and hammer heads before use to ensure they’re securely affixed, and don’t use anything with a cracked or damaged handle
- Follow all instructions and safety warnings and engage all safety features when working with compressed air, powder-actuated tools, or tools and light equipment with moving parts; everyone should be trained to use the equipment they work with
- Never leave tools on scaffolding, platforms, ladder rungs, near holes or gaps in the floor, or anywhere else they can be accidentally knocked down onto someone
- Use toeboards, debris nets, guardrails, or other safety features as necessary
- Secure materials and items against wind gusts as needed
- Thoroughly check all types of rigging, such as hooks, clips, shackles, slings, eyebolts, etc.
- Do not stand directly beneath a suspended load of a load being lifted
- Ensure that loads are lifted evenly to prevent slips
- Keep a safe distance from machinery being operated
- Stand clear of the swing radius of cabs, machine arms, and loads in motion
- Be constantly alert for people in a potentially dangerous location while operating any machinery
- Never exceed maximum load capacities when lifting materials or debris
- Only drive vehicles and heavy equipment on ground conditions and grades they are made to safely handle
- Don’t drive vehicles or machines in reverse without a clear view or guided assistance from another person
- Engage parking brakes on vehicles and machines when they’re not in use
- Ensure that all vehicles and heavy equipment that are loaded from above have an appropriate cab shield or canopy to protect the operator
- Have all heavy equipment regularly inspected and follow the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule