Falls, electrocutions, struck-by and caught-between accidents account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry. In fact, over 90 percent of all construction fatalities involve one of these four hazards. Thirty-three percent are attributed to falls, 22 percent to struck-by accidents, 18 percent to caught-between accidents and 17 percent to electrical shock. This has led OSHA in recent years to focus on these four hazards, especially when conducting onsite inspections. These hazards are often referred to in the construction industry as the “Focus Four Hazards” or the “Big Four.”
With this Toolbox Talk, we will single out the “struck-by” accidents and the hazards associated with them. It is important to know and understand how these accidents occur and what safeguards need to be in place. On a construction site, the potential is there to be struck from several angles. One of the more common struck-by hazards is being struck or run over by vehicles or equipment, especially those with obstructed rear views.
In order to prevent struck-by incidents involving vehicular traffic and construction equipment, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends:
- Implementing policies that require workers on foot to maintain a safe clearance from mobile equipment.
- Requiring equipment operators to operate equipment only when pedestrians are in plain sight.
- Instructing workers on foot to approach construction equipment only when the operator recognizes their need to approach and assures them that it is okay to approach.
- Requiring all workers to wear high-visibility clothing at all times while on the job site.
Construction vehicles and equipment are not the only potential sources of struck-by hazards. There are many occasions when workers are exposed to overhead hazards such as tools, materials and other objects that can be dropped or released and strike a worker. Two practices to put in place that will help to avoid these types of injuries are:
- Pre-planning routes for suspended loads to ensure that no employee is required to work directly below a load. This is a practice that should always be used. Some have even chosen to hoist materials via crane or derrick before a shift begins to minimize the number of personnel working in the area.
- Using toeboards and screens to prevent objects from falling on individuals at a lower level.
Safety is recognizing potential hazards, and putting controls in place to avoid injuries. If we follow some basic precautions, we can prevent struck-by injuries from occurring.