Safety Focus: Preventing Struck-By Injuries From Falling Objects

workers handling steel coil cargo

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are more than 50,000 “struck by falling object” recordable injuries every year in the United States. There are nearly 116 injuries caused by falling objects every day or one injury caused by a dropped object every 10 minutes. These statistics are driven by actual reported incidents., which makes one wonder how many falling objects incidents are actually going unreported and not reflected in this data. While maritime operations involve a lot of overhead work, there is always the possibility of tools, equipment, work material, and other objects falling or being dropped from an elevated position.

 

Understanding Exposures for Being Struck By Falling Objects

A falling or dropped object is defined as an object such as a tool, PPE, or piece of equipment that has fallen to a lower level from a previously higher position.

There are two types of dropped objects:

  1. Static Dropped Objects - objects that fall from a static position under their own weight due to dislodgement or wear and tear from factors such as corrosion, vibration or due to construction failures. (Application of external force does not need to occur i.e a hammer falling through a rotted piece of wood)
  2. Dynamic Dropped Objects - Objects that fall due to extreme force applied externally to a system that the dropped object is a part of, such as accidental collision. (i.e. tools being knocked off a scaffold due to shifting or kicking of said tool)

Injuries related to falling or dropped objects most commonly occur while:

  • working on scaffolds
  • working on ladders
  • working on work platforms
  • utilizing a manlift/scissor lift
  • power industrial trucks are in operation
  • cranes are in operation (working under a suspended load)
  • walking or accessing a worksite through a gangway
  • working under or near a storage rack 

 

OSHA Rules Related to Struck-By Hazards

OSHA has determined that struck-by hazards are one of the four main safety hazards (OSHA’s Fatal Four), that account for a majority of all worker deaths each year on the job site.  OSHA has set forth requirements to protect workers from struck-by objects lifted or handled hazards. These requirements are mandatory and must be implemented anywhere these struck-by hazards exist.  

When referring to "Struck by Falling Objects", OSHA, under its fall protection regulations, does include falling object protection.  In addition, struck-by-hazards are among the four main hazards from OSHA's "Fatal Four", which accounts for several worker fatalities and injuries at industrial and maritime worksites.  Thus, OSHA has set forth requirements to protect workers from struck-by-falling or dropped objects.  For more details on these OSHA rules, visit our Safety Focus page about this topic.

 

Exclusive for ALMA Members: Struck-By Falling Objects

As part of our monthly Safety Focus initiative, the ALMA member resource website has  a page providing safety resources related to struck-by falling object hazards. Resources include toolbox talks, safety bulletins, OSHA guidance and more. 

ALMA members may access that page  by clicking here (login required). If you have not yet registered for access,  click here to do so.

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Related Topics

Safety, Safety Focus Campaign, Struck-by