Construction leads in struck-by accidents, deaths

Highway maintenance workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the construction field, as do power-line installers and excavators.

So says a new study that examines the role of “struck-by” hazards in the cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in construction.

The study, by the Center for Construction Research and Training, found that from 2011 to 2015, 804 construction workers died from struck-by injuries, more than any other major industry including agriculture and transportation.

Construction also had the highest rate of nonfatal struck-by injuries among all industries.

About half (52.2%) of the struck-by fatalities were caused by an object or equipment, the study found.

(Note: Apprentice Personnel puts a premium on worker safety. We do not supply construction-site flaggers.)

Struck-by hazards originate from many sources. The most common include:

  • accidental hits by cranes, heavy equipment and loader trucks;
  • falling, flying, slipping, rolling and swinging equipment and materials;
  • poorly stacked heavy materials that may fall, slip and slide;
  • objects leaning against walls or posts;
  • unmarked low beams or pipes at site.

The study found that highway maintenance workers had the highest rate of fatalities due to struck-by injuries, with 16 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

The number of struck-by fatalities tracked the overall fatality trend in construction, falling during the recession and increasing afterward. In 2015, 162 construction workers died from struck-by injuries, a 2.5% increase from 2011 and 34% higher than the low point in 2010.

Overall, 57% of struck-by vehicle fatalities were due to being struck by forward-moving vehicles, while 26% were struck by backing-up vehicles.

The study also found that, in general, older construction workers had a higher risk of struck-by fatalities, while younger workers had a higher risk of nonfatal struck-by injuries.

The center included a number of recommendations that can help cut the number of deaths caused by struck-by injuries. These included backup cameras, hardhats with illumination and better lighting in road work construction zones.

The prevalence of struck-by deaths and injuries spurred OSHA to come up with plans for curbing such hazards. Struck-by accidents have been incorporated into OSHA’s Focus Four initiative, which concentrates training and resources on the most common types of construction accidents.

Falls, caught-in and caught-between, and electrocution hazards also are on that list.

About the Author

Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.

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