Construction workers face a high risk of serious and sometimes fatal workplace accidents. Some of the most devastating injuries result from workers struck by objects. Struck-by accidents are included in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Focus Four” list of deadly construction accidents.
OSHA’s Focus Four, in addition to struck-by accidents, includes electrocution, falls, and caught-in-between accidents. Struck-by accidents are further broken down into four categories: workers hit by falling objects, flying objects, rolling objects, or swinging and slipping objects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded 761 fatal struck-by accidents in 2016.
The risk of strike injuries increases with elevation. Construction workers often work on elevated surfaces such as ladders, scaffolding, and high-rise platforms. Swinging arms of backhoes and front loaders, heavy steel beams delivered to elevated spaces, and heavy construction equipment in constant motion can strike a worker at any time.
Types of Struck-By Accidents
Falling Objects: Steel beams, scaffolds, machinery, or heavy building materials can sometimes become loose and fall, trapping a worker under the weight of the object. Workers injured in this type of accident can suffer severe head, neck, and back injuries when they are pinned or crushed under the heavy object. Further injury can occur during extraction, including amputation of limbs.
Flying Objects: Objects that fly through the air typically come off tools and machinery. A loose drill bit, a high-powered nail gun, and even a heavy piece of construction equipment can become airborne and propelled with great force. Workers struck by these objects can suffer head and neck injuries, broken bones, back injuries, and cuts or lacerations.
Rolling Objects: A rolling object can include a construction vehicle in motion, an escaped piece of construction material, or material that is sliding toward a construction worker. In this type of accident, workers sustain injuries when the object rolls over the injury victim. Head, back, and neck injuries, internal organ damage, and crushed bones are common in this type of accident.
Swinging Objects: Workers often use cranes, hoists, and machinery to transport heavy objects. Accidents can happen when the object is not loaded properly, the operator transporting the object improperly operates the heavy equipment or high winds cause the load to swing in transport. A construction worker is no match for the sheer size and weight of these objects. Injuries in this type of accident are commonly severe and often fatal.
To avoid the catastrophic injuries that can occur in struck-by accidents, employers must properly train, supervise, and supply workers with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Hard hats, protective eye gear, tethers for workers in elevated areas, and steel-toed shoes can help prevent serious injury.
Firmly securing construction materials and frequent inspection of scaffolding and ladders, as well as construction equipment, is also vital to safety.
Workers should also exercise caution when working around moving equipment and materials. Keeping a safe distance from moving vehicles and equipment in operation, as well as refraining from working under heavy objects that are being lifted, can prevent fatal accidents.
Workers must also ensure the safety of their colleagues by keeping work areas free from debris and securing tools and equipment.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Advocate for Worker Safety
If you have been injured in a construction accident, call the Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP at 800-222-8792, or contact us online at www.galfandberger.com to schedule a free consultation today. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, and Lancaster, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.