“Struck-by” incidents involving an object forcibly impacting a person are a leading cause of injuries and death in the construction industry, according to the August 2022 report, “Struck-by Hazards, Barriers, and Opportunities in the Construction Industry,” by the Center For Construction Research and Training (CPWR).
The nonprofit surveyed more than 200 individuals in the construction industry, the majority of whom are safety professionals, and found that the primary causes of struck-by accidents involved working around heavy construction equipment and falling objects. The biggest barriers to preventing these incidents were a lack of understanding of the hazards, time constraints caused by scheduling pressures or an emphasis on production, and a lack of training on hazard identification and prevention.
“These results suggest there may be a benefit to focusing on and considering the connections between these barriers when exploring ways to prevent struck-by injuries and developing related materials for the struck-by prevention planning program,” according to the report.
It’s important that employers recognize the hazards of struck-by incidents—on roadway work zones and on other job sites—and the methods and means to prevent these incidents from occurring, said Wesley Wheeler, NECA’s executive director of safety.
“With all the infrastructure work that is beginning, employers will have many workers present in the roadway work zones, exposed to incidents involving other vehicles entering their work area,” Wheeler said. “Positive protection must be in place to ensure the safety of these roadway and utility workers, exposed to these hazards.”
In addition to reminding workers to use personal protective equipment and reinforcing safety training, the majority of CPWR’s survey respondents also employed these safety measures for each struck-by hazard:
- To prevent being struck by falling or flying tools, materials or other objects when working at heights or at the same level, respondents use rope, tape or other lines to mark a restricted area.
- For heavy equipment or vehicles, respondents use backup signals/alarms and spotters to maintain restricted access.
- For motor vehicles intruding into the workspace, respondents develop and implement a traffic control plan.
- For cranes or loads being lifted, respondents clear the area of all personnel not involved in a lift before it is performed and put up warning signs and markers to restrict access.
- For the possibility of collapsing trench walls or materials or equipment falling into a trench, respondents install a trench box and slope walls.
- For the possibility of collapsing buildings, such as when erecting walls, respondents restrict access to areas where walls are being constructed. In addition, they monitor weather conditions and take corrective actions.
- In a webinar earlier this month, CPWR announced a pilot program with any willing contractor to help workshop a toolkit that the nonprofit has developed. As part of the pilot, CPWR will collaborate with contractors to identify the risks of struck-by accidents on their own job sites, make a pre-job plan to prevent such incidents and then employ “nudges” for workers to support ongoing planning.
Suggested nudges include:
- During morning meetings and other reinforcement training opportunities, contractors should incorporate discussions of the importance of planning and instruction on when and how to properly plan.
- Contractors should hang job site posters with reminders on how to properly plan for and conduct safe lifts, transports, work at heights, etc. Text, email and sticker reminders can also be effective.
- Contractors should consider providing incentives or rewards for workers engaging in daily planning. This offers opportunities for employee recognition, reinforcement of company priorities and providing feedback.
CPWR is supporting a work group established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s research arm, NORA, by developing and providing access to materials and new information through an online resource, planning and hosting webinars, exploring new approaches to influence safety practices and fielding surveys, according to the report.
“The CPWR has worked with the trades and research groups to identify issues affecting workers in construction,” Wheeler said. “Developing programs such as Foundations for Safety Leadership, Best Built Plans for manual material lifting and moving and Working Safely with Silica, CPWR leads the industry in promoting awareness and developing resources such as this Struck-By Hazards program to assist employers in protecting workers.”