OSHA’s Fatal Four: Struck-By Hazards

In the second entry of our OSHA Fatal Four series, we will examine another common workplace hazard that can lead to devastating injury if not prepared for. Fortunately, preventing these dangers is a matter of observing a few basic workplace safety measures.

In workplaces across the country, employees are injured by vehicles, tools and machinery that strike individuals without warning. In fact, in 2014, over 8 percent of fatal accidents in the construction industry were the result of a worker being struck by an object, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, 1 in 4 struck-by-vehicle deaths involve construction workers. But these hazards aren't only dangerous to construction crews – anywhere an object may be flying, falling, swinging or rolling should be subject to certain safety guidelines.

Employers must use signs and workers must observe them
It's easy to brush off the need for certain safety precautions when you're used to doing the same job day in and day out. But if you see a sign in the area specifically telling you to avoid certain things or follow certain rules, you may be more likely to listen. Signs play a crucial role in accident prevention because they remind workers of dangers they may overlook.

Employees aren't the only ones who can improve safety by following signs. Pedestrians nearing a construction zone may give space when they read signs describing hazardous work conditions, while cars and trucks are compelled to slow down and move over when reflective road signs warn them of upcoming construction.

Certain hazards can arise out of nowhere - it's always good to be on the alert.
Certain hazards can arise out of nowhere – it's always good to be on the alert.

Always wear PPE
Personal Protective Equipment should never be the only thing workers rely on to keep them safe – accident prevention tactics are more important – but they can still save lives and prevent injuries. Helmets, safety goggles and steel-toed shoes on a construction site or in a manufacturing facility might be the difference between a bruise and a lost eye, broken toe, concussion or worse. Especially where scaffolding is involved, helmets are a necessity: Even small objects dropped from height can be deadly. Additionally, reflective gear can also help those working in low-light, outdoor areas stay visible to passing cars.

In less hazardous workplaces, falling objects are still dangers. Making repairs, lifting heavy objects or simply not paying attention can lead to injury. It's important for workers to exercise caution whenever there is a chance they might be hit by a heavy, solid object.