Struck-by accidents are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in the construction industry and the second most common cause of workplace fatalities among the Fatal Four Hazards. In 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A.) reported that at least 112 workers were killed when struck by an object on the job, accounting for 11.1 percent of construction fatalities overall. These accidents are often preventable and typically result from mishaps due to inadequate training, poor worksite upkeep, and a lack of support on the worksite.
Struck-By Accidents Defined
Struck-by accidents are defined as incidents that involve workers sustaining forcible contact with an object that results in severe or fatal injuries. A strike is used to describe the delivery of a blow, thrust, or collision between a worker and an object, different than a crush. Struck-by accidents can occur anywhere a worker is present on the job site: the ground, a platform, the top of a skyscraper, or when actively operating machinery.
Though often confused with caught-in or between hazards, O.S.H.A. classifies struck-by accidents by determining the following: Was the impact of the object alone what caused the injury? If the answer is ‘yes,’ and the impact was the sole cause of the injury, the construction accident is considered a struck-by incident. If the answer is ‘no,’ the accident would most likely be classified in another category based on other factors.
Types of Struck-By Accidents
There are four categories of struck-by hazards acknowledged by O.S.H.A. in annual reports, each capable of producing fatal results:
Struck-by Flying Objects
Flying objects on the worksite often occur when tools or materials are hurled, thrown, or propelled through the air before encountering a worker. These instances include materials thrown from machines, tools, or other equipment. Struck-by flying object accidents may also result from pneumatic or powder-actuated tools where objects are expected to discharge with force. Machines using compressed air can also cause an object to propel at dangerous speeds depending on the surface and amount of force. Nail gun mishaps are the most common struck-by flying object accidents across the construction industry.
Struck-by Falling Objects
These types of falling object accidents include workers who are struck, crushed, pinned, or caught under an object that has fallen; the higher the object falls from, typically, the more fatal the injury. The most common falling objects leading to injuries include tools, materials, crane booms, poles, or other falling support structures unrelated to collapsing material and structures. Worksites and elevated platforms that are cluttered or contain improperly secured loads are always at a higher risk for the occurrence of struck-by injuries.
Struck-by Swinging Objects
Construction work involves endless mechanical lifting of materials and structures around the site, onto platforms, or up to elevated levels such as skyscrapers. When this task is done improperly or without supervision, objects can swing and strike workers nearby. Swinging objects can cause immediate injuries to workers from the initial impact and subsequent injuries if workers fall. Windy conditions can also wreak havoc during lifting tasks, causing unsecured loads to fall or swing out of control. Swinging object accidents are common on sites where cranes high volumes of cranes are used without proper training and support.
Struck-by Rolling Objects
When objects roll, slide, or move out of control on the same level a worker is present, fatal injuries can occur. Rolling object accidents often involve out-of-control or runaway vehicles that strike or run over workers on the site without being caught under or in-between. Common rolling object instances involve rail cars, tractor-trailers, work trucks, cars, and other construction vehicles.
Common Struck-By Injuries
The severity of struck-by injuries will vary based on several factors; the object’s weight, the height from which it falls, the presence of additional force applied by forced air, the worker’s position at the time of the accident, and location of impact. The most common injuries stemming from fall accidents in construction include:
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Nerve damage;
- Permanent and disabling injuries;
- Severe fractures and broken bones; and
While all construction workers are at risk of struck-by injuries, some positions have a higher rate of injuries than others. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), positions posing the highest threat of struck-by injuries include helpers, sheet metal workers, mechanics, ironworkers, laborers, plumbers, carpenters, painters, truck drivers, roofers, electricians, welders, brick masons, construction managers, forepersons, and operating engineers.
Involved in a Construction-Related Accident
Struck-by accidents in the construction industry are preventable with training, safety planning, use of Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.), and supervision of worksite tasks. Construction companies and contractors are responsible for protecting their workers from foreseeable harm. It doesn’t matter how dangerous the industry work is; all employees deserve to be safe on the job.
If your construction accident resulted from employer negligence or other predictable means, you might be eligible for compensation. We recommend hiring a personal injury attorney to help you explore your options and find the support you need to get back on your feet after an accident.
Work with The Top NYC & Long Island Construction Attorneys
Our construction injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving injured workers across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate the claim process using our experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction accident, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343, or schedule an appointment using our online form anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.