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Struck-By Injuries, Prevention Report Released

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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Struck-by injuries are among the top four hazards in construction, and the latest quarterly Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) report breaks down the data on this particular type of workplace safety risk.

In construction, struck-by hazards remain the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. These have been identified by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as one of the Focus Four hazards, with the other three being falls, caught-in-between and electrocution. With the possibility of struck-by injuries occurring a number of different ways, the CPWR quarterly report provides details on data on deaths and injuries from being struck by vehicles, objects and equipment.

Key Findings

The new CPWR report notes the following findings:

  • From 2011 to 2015, 804 construction workers died from struck-by injuries.
  • 52 percent of struck-by fatalities involved falling objects or equipment.
  • 57 percent of struck-by deaths occurred in work zones.
  • 96 percent of nonfatal struck-by injuries were caused by an object or equipment.
  • Highway maintenance workers had the highest rate of struck-by fatalities, while helpers had the highest rate of nonfatal injuries.
  • Construction workers who were age 65 or older experienced the highest rate of struck-by fatalities, with workers under 20 having the highest rate of nonfatal injuries.
  • Those working in construction face double the risk of a nonfatal struck-by injury, as compared with other industries.

Trends of Fatal Struck-by Injuries

In the 2011 to 2015 window of time, 804 U.S. construction workers died due to struck-by injuries, which, according to CPWR’s report, is more than any other major industry.

Overall, numbers of fatal struck-by injuries followed the established fatality trend in the construction industry, with 162 construction workers dying in 2015, a 2.5 percent increase from 2011, and a 34 percent increase from 2010’s low point of 121 deaths. According to CPWR’s report, even though there was a slight uptick in struck-by fatalities from 2011 to 2015, the share of overall fatal construction injuries that were classified as struck-by dropped from 20 percent to 16 percent during the same time period.

© / Drazen Lovric

In construction, struck-by hazards remain the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.

From 2011 to 2015, 52.2 percent of struck-by fatalities were due to being struck by an object or equipment. The number of these specific struck-by deaths increased 20 percent, from 80 incidents in 2011 to 96 in 2015. In the same timeframe, deaths as a result of being struck by a vehicle fell 15 percent.

Among the 420 who died from being struck by an object during the five-year period, 78 were killed by construction, logging and mining machinery, and 74 were struck by solid building materials. More than 51 percent (216 in total) were struck by falling objects or equipment, followed by nontransport vehicles, at 33 percent.

The report notes that struck-by fatalities were more likely to occur in larger establishments, with 34.4 percent of struck-by fatalities occurring in establishments with 50 or more employees, compared to 22.1 percent of all construction-related fatalities in general.

Vehicle Struck-By Stats

Construction had more struck-by-vehicle fatalities than any other major industry, and ranked second in terms of number of deaths resulting from being struck by an object or equipment.

The majority of the 384 vehicle-related deaths (57 percent, or 220 in total) occurred in work zones, while 73 deaths occurred in nonroadway areas.

Fatal Struck-by Injuries in Construction Subgroups

Of the subsectors in the construction industry, the highway, bridge and street sectors had the highest number of struck-by fatalities from 2011 to 2015. The majority of these deaths resulted from being struck by a vehicle on the job. However, more site-preparation workers were killed by an object or equipment than those in other subsectors.

In 2013, the number of deaths resulting from struck-by injuries in these sectors dipped, with an increase afterward. Despite the uptick, the total remained lower in 2015 than it was in 2011. During the 2011 to 2015 window, there were an average of 41 struck-by vehicle deaths per year, with an average of 11 deaths resulting from being struck by an object per year.

In terms of occupation, construction laborers, which is the largest trade in the construction industry, had the highest number of fatal struck-by injuries among all construction occupations, with a total of 243 deaths. However, those working in highway maintenance suffered the highest fatality rate due to struck-by injuries, with 16 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, according to the report. Power-line installers, along with excavating and loading machine operators, also had a high risk of struck-by fatalities, each with 10.2 deaths per 100,000 FTEs.

© / potowizard

Those in construction face double the risk of a nonfatal struck-by injury, over other industries.

In terms of age, a quarter of those struck were 45 to 54 years old, more than any other age group. But the highest struck-by fatality rate of all age groups was in the 65-plus range, which saw 4.3 deaths per 100,000 FTEs. The youngest age group, 16-19, also had an elevated risk of struck-by fatalities on a per-worker basis, according to the report.

Trends in Nonfatal Struck-By Injuries

In 2015, 17,050 struck-by injuries occurred in construction, a 17 percent overall increase over 2011. There was a slight decrease in the per-worker rate, however, from 29.3 (in 2011) to 28.7 injuries per 10,000 FTEs (in 2015). (The CPRW report accounts only for injuries that caused a worker to miss at least a day of work.)

The vast majority (96 percent) of all nonfatal struck-by injuries during the study period were caused by an object or equipment, and construction workers had the highest risk of being struck by an object among all industries, at 27.4 injuries per 10,000 FTEs, nearly twice the risk of all industries combined.

In 2015, construction had the third highest number of overall struck-by injuries, with also ranking third in injuries resulting from being struck by a vehicle.

Solid building materials were the most common source of nonfatal injuries in 2015, resulting in around 3,500 injuries. Other common causes of nonfatal injuries came from hand tools, along with scraps, waste and debris. Combined, these four sources accounted for 64 percent of nonfatal struck-by object injuries.

Nonfatal Struck-by Injuries in Construction Subgroups

The plumbing, heating and air conditioning subsector had the highest number of object-related struck-by injuries of any sector, with 3,100 workers suffering such injuries in 2015, but the masonry contractor subsector experienced the highest per-worker rate of struck-by object injuries, with 48.2 injuries per 10,000 FTEs the same year. The residential building sector experienced 2,790 injuries per 10,000 FTEs.

Combined, laborers and carpenters accounted for 40 percent of nonfatal struck-by injuries in construction, with 4,220 and 2,220, respectively. Construction helpers experienced 168.4 injuries per 10,000 FTEs, which was seven times the rate of all construction occupations combined—22.5 injuries per 10,000 FTEs.

Younger construction workers faced a higher risk of nonfatal struck-by injuries than those who were older, with construction workers under 20 facing the highest rate (64 injuries per 10,000 FTEs). Those 65 years and older had the lowest rate of these kinds of injuries. Construction workers in the 25 to 34 age range represented the largest percentage of struck-by object injuries (28.7 percent).

Preventing Struck-by Injuries

The CPWR report notes that many of these kinds of injuries can be prevented with the use of vehicle back-up cameras, highly visible clothing, barriers and enforcement in road construction zones, along with internal traffic control plans. CPWR also recommends the use of the proper engineering controls, along with personal protective equipment and safety and health training. Together, the report says, these measures can help lower struck-by numbers in the future.

The nonprofit CPWR is the research and training arm of North America's Building Trades Unions. The quarterly report was produced in cooperation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Construction; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; North America

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