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Course 808: Focus Four - Struck-By Hazards

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Protecting Yourself from Struck-by Hazards

Heavy Equipment – Cranes, Excavators, and more

Properly securing any load with appropriate rigging is crucial to any lifting being done by machinery on the job-site. If the rigging fails, the results can cause serious injury and even death. Before any load is lifted all components of the rigging hardware should be evaluated to ensure they can withstand the forces of the load. There are also many other circumstances that you will need to be aware of when working around heavy equipment. Following the safe work practices listed below will greatly enhance your ability to remain safe while working around heavy equipment.

  • Guard all exposed gears, rotating shafts, pulleys, sprockets or other moving parts to prevent contact with employees.
  • Stay away from heavy equipment when it’s operating – In fact, be alert to the location of all heavy equipment whether in use or not.
  • Be aware of the swing radius of cranes and backhoes and do not enter that zone.
  • Inspect all rigging equipment prior to each lift, this should include all slings, chains, ropes, and like materials used to support and lift materials.
  • Remove from service any defective equipment immediately.
  • Inspect all hooks, clamps, and other lifting accessories for their rated load.
  • Stay clear of lifted loads and never work under a suspended load.
  • The person responsible for signaling the crane operator needs to stay in visual contact with the operator and is trained to use the correct signals.
  • Beware of unbalanced loads.
  • Workers should confirm and receive acknowledgment from the heavy equipment operator that they are visible.
  • Drive equipment [or vehicles] on grades or roadways that are safely constructed and maintained.
  • Make sure all workers and other personnel are in the clear before using dumping or lifting devices.
  • Lower or block bulldozer and scraper blades, end loader buckets, dump bodies, etc., when not in use, and leave all controls in neutral position.
  • Haulage vehicles that are loaded by cranes, power shovels, loaders etc., must have a cab shield or canopy that protects the driver from falling materials.
  • Do not exceed a vehicle's rated load or lift capacity.
  • Do not carry personnel unless there is a safe place to ride.

Heavy Equipment – Cranes, Excavators, and more (Continued...)

There are also many things your employer must do to ensure your safety around heavy equipment as well, such as:

  • determining whether the ground is sufficiently level and firm to support the anticipated weight of hoisting equipment and associated loads;
  • assessing hazards within the work zone that would affect the safe operation of hoisting equipment such as, power lines and objects or personnel that would be within the swing radius of the hoisting equipment;
  • erecting barriers to mark the area covered by the rotating superstructure to warn workers of the danger zone;
  • ensuring equipment is in safe operating condition via required inspections;
  • complying with all manufacturer procedures regarding proper operational functions of equipment, including its use with attachments;
  • ensuring safe attachment of rigging devices such as shackles, hooks, eyebolts, spreader beams and slings, wedge socket and wire rope clips;
  • providing seat belts when required;
  • ensuring roadways and grades are maintained to accommodate the safe movement of equipment and vehicles; and
  • ensuring all earthmoving/compacting equipment with obstructed view does not operate in reverse gear unless the equipment has a reverse signal alarm, or a worker has been designated to signal when it is safe.

To learn more about cranes and rigging safety please click here. For more comprehensive information please consider reviewing course 820 Crane and Derrick Safety I, and 821 Crane and Derrick Safety II.

Struck-by Flying Object (Continued...)

Let’s review an example of an actual accident:

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Accident Type: Struck by Collapsing Crane Boom
Weather Conditions: Clear
Type of Company: General Contractor
Size of Work Crew: 9
Union or Non-Union: Union
Competent Safety Monitor on Site: Yes
Safety and Health Program in Effect: Yes
Was the Worksite Inspected Regularly: Yes
Training and Education Provided: Yes
Employee Job Title: 1. Iron Worker 2. Management Trainee
Age & Sex: 1. Ironworker-35; male 2. Management Trainee-26; male
Time on the Job: 1 Hour
Time on the task: 1 Hour

Description of Accident

A crew of ironworkers and a crane operator were unloading a 20-ton steel slab from a low-boy trailer using a 50-ton crawler crane with 90-foot lattice boom. The operator was inexperienced on this crane and did not know the length of the boom. Further, no one had determined the load radius. During lifting, the load moved forward and to the right, placing a twisting force on the boom. The boom twisted under the load, swinging down, under and to the right. Two employees standing 30 feet away apparently saw the boom begin to swing and ran. The boom struck one of the employees - an ironworker - on the head, causing instant death. Wire rope struck the other -- a management trainee -- causing internal injuries. He died two hours later at a local hospital.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

Motor Vehicles – Trucks, Cars, and More

Workers often deal with low lighting, low visibility, inclement weather, multiple vehicles, and numerous distractions at worksites. Moving construction vehicles and passing motor vehicle traffic can both cause problems for construction workers. Vehicle safety practices must be observed at construction sites to limit worker exposure to struck-by hazards such as struck-by swinging backhoes, struck-by falling/overturning vehicles, and struck-by trucks or cars.

To avoid these types of hazards, workers should:

  • wear seat belts when provided;
  • check vehicles before each shift to assure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition;
  • do not drive a vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view, unless it has an audible reverse alarm, or another worker signals that it is safe;
  • set parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked, and chock the wheels if they are on an incline;
  • all vehicles must have adequate braking systems and other safety devices;
  • use traffic signs, barricades or flaggers when construction takes place near public roadways; and
  • workers must be highly visible in all levels of light. Warning clothing, such as red or orange vests, are required, and if worn for night work, must be of reflective material.

Motor Vehicles – Trucks, Cars, and More (Continued...)

When working on or near any construction zone:

  • wear high-visibility reflective clothing;
  • do not put yourself at risk of being struck by a vehicle and do not get caught in a situation where there's no escape route;
  • do not direct traffic unless you are the flagger;
  • flaggers must be visible by both motorists and equipment operators;
  • check that necessary warning signs are posted;
  • never cross the path of a backing vehicle;
  • if equipment doesn’t have a reverse signal alarm loud enough to be heard against the surrounding noise level, and the operator has an obstructed view to the rear, the employer will designate a worker to signal when it’s safe to back up; and
  • follow “Exit” and “Entry” worksite traffic plan.

Flaggers and other workers on foot are at greater risk of exposure to being struck; therefore, they must be visible by both motorists and equipment operators.

Your employer is required to:

  • conduct a hazard assessment of the worksite using the job-site coordinator (supervisor or foreman) who should:
    • make a thorough assessment of potential worksite safety hazards,
    • plan for work being conducted in close proximity to a public road or highway and for the safe handling of intermittent roadway traffic stoppages, such as a truck entering a roadway, and
    • plan the entry and exit to and from the worksite to reduce exposure to traffic;
  • post-construction areas with legible traffic signs at points of hazard;
  • erect barricades that conform to the MUTCD;
  • place necessary warning signs along the road; and
  • all workers on site should have a safety and operations orientation.

If you’re interested in learning more about work zone traffic safety please review course 612 – Work Zone Traffic Safety.

General Safe Work Practices

As an employee, you are your own best advocate for keeping yourself safe. Below is a list of safe work practices to help you.

When working with compressed air:

  • reduce air pressure to 30 psi if used for cleaning, and use only with appropriate guarding and proper protective equipment; and
  • never clean clothing with compressed air.

When working with hand tools:

  • do not use tools with loose, cracked or splintered handles; and
  • do not use impact tools with mushroomed heads.

When working with machines, such as jack hammers, pavement saws:

  • be sure to be trained on safe operation of machinery;
  • inspect machinery and ensure all guards are in place and in working order;
  • protect feet, eyes, ears and hands; and
  • wear hearing protection.

When performing overhead work:

  • secure all tools and materials;
  • use toeboards, screens, guardrails and debris nets;
  • barricade the area and post signs; and
  • be sure materials stored in buildings under construction are placed further than 6 feet of hoist way/floor openings and more than 10 feet from an exterior wall.

General Safe Work Practices (Continued...)

When working with powder-actuated tools you must be trained and licensed to operate them if required.

When working with power tools, such as saws, drills, and grinders:

  • be sure to be trained on how to safely use the power tool;
  • inspect tools before each use;
  • wear safety goggles;
  • operate according to manufacturer’s instructions; and
  • ensure all required guards are in place.

When pushing or pulling objects that may become airborne:

  • stack and secure materials to prevent sliding, falling or collapse;
  • keep work areas clear; and
  • secure material against wind gusts.

General Safe Work Practices (Continued...)

Your employer is responsible for ensuring:

  • all hand tools are maintained in good condition;
  • the use of unsafe hand tools is not permitted (i.e., no sprung jaws on wrenches, no mushroomed heads, no splinters or cracks in wooden handles, no loose parts/heads of tools);
  • saws are equipped with guards and have a constant pressure switch that will shut off the power when the pressure is released;
  • safety guards are on all abrasive wheel bench and stand grinders;
  • only trained workers are allowed to operate powder-actuated tools;
  • all powder-actuated tools are tested daily before use and all defects discovered before or during use are corrected;
  • powder-actuated tools are not loaded until immediately before use and loaded tools are not left unattended;
  • compressed air used for cleaning purposes is reduced to less than 30 pounds per square inch (psi) and provide effective chip guarding and PPE;
  • all materials stored in tiers are secured to prevent sliding, falling, or collapsing; and
  • toeboards are erected along the edge of overhead walking/working surfaces.

General Safe Work Practices (Continued...)

Old tools that may need to be replaced.

Let’s review an example of an actual accident:

A worker was cutting a 6-inch steel water pipe with a gas-powered abrasive wheel when the saw kicked back and struck the worker’s face shield, resulting in a laceration and two fractures of the nose.

What would you recommend?

Below is a list of actions that could be taken to ensure an accident like this does not occur.

  • Wear safety glasses and face shields when working with these tools.
  • Make sure workers using powder-actuated tools have been trained. If not, they are a risk to everyone working nearby.
  • Never place hand or fingers over the front muzzle end of a powder-actuated tool and always hold the tool perpendicular to the work, ensuring the spall guard is in place.
  • Inspect tools to ensure protective guards are in place and in good condition.
  • Perform ring tests of grinding wheels to determine if they are intact.
  • Keep the cord behind the cut to prevent cutting the cord.
  • Never stand in line with the unprotected part of a grinding wheel, stand to the side and out of the plane of rotation during start-up. Always wear safety glasses and full-face shields.
  • Check electric tools for defects, such as missing grounding pins and cracked cases, before using.
  • Always use a GFCI.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment must be worn and used in a manner that will make full use of its protective qualities. Personal protective equipment used incorrectly potentially exposes an employee to hazards, which defeats the reason for using PPE. To review a "PPE for Workers Checklist" click here.

Eye and face protection should be used based on anticipated hazards. Safety glasses or goggles should be worn any time work operations present an eye hazard. For example, safety glasses or goggles should be worn during welding, cutting, grinding, nailing (or when working with concrete and/or harmful chemicals or when exposed to flying particles).

Head protection (i.e., hard hats) should be used where there is a potential for objects falling from above, and bumps to the head from fixed objects. Hard hats should be routinely inspected for dents, cracks or deterioration. Replace your hard hat after a heavy blow and ensure it is maintained and in good condition.

When worn alone, face shields do not protect employees from impact hazards. Workers should use face shields in combination with safety spectacles or goggles, even in the absence of dust or potential splashes, for additional protection beyond that offered by spectacles or goggles alone.

Your employer must do the following:

  • Pay for PPE as required by OSHA.
  • Provide and require the use of appropriate PPE in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions.
  • Ensure the adequacy of PPE including proper maintenance and sanitation.
  • Provide head protection (e.g., hard hats, helmets) whenever there is possible danger of head injuries from impact, flying or falling objects.
  • Provide eye and face protection when machines or operations present eye or face injury.
  • Provide workers involved in welding operations with filter lenses or plates of proper shade number.
  • Ensure eye, face, and head protective equipment meets ANSI requirements.

Training

To help protect you from struck-by hazards your employer must:

  • Train workers in the work zone to recognize hazards associated with the use of the equipment and any related duties that they are assigned to perform.
  • Ensure crane operators are qualified or certified according to OSHA standards.
  • Ensure signal person meets qualification requirements according to OSHA standards.
  • Instruct workers in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his/her work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.
  • Ensure qualified operators and riggers have been trained on rigging safety, such as:
    • know the weight [of load] the rigging is expected to support
    • know the capacity of the strength of the rigging (type and method of use)
    • retain the load – know which hitches work best for certain types of loads
    • control the load – know which hitches provide good load control and where the center of gravity of the load is

Training (Continued...)

Let’s review an example of an actual accident:

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Accident Type: Struck-by
Weather Conditions: Clear/Cool/Windy
Type of Operation: Construction Maintenance
Size of Work Crew: 3
Collective Bargaining: Yes
Competent Safety Monitor on Site: No
Safety and Health Program in Effect: No
Was the Worksite Inspected Regularly: Inadequate
Training and Education Provided: No
Employee Job Title: Laborer
Age & Sex: 33-male
Experience at this Type of Work: 18 Weeks
Time on Project: 1 Day

Description of Accident

Employees were dismantling grain spouts at a grain elevator. Sections of the spout were connected by collars. A ten foot section of a spout weighing 600 pounds was being pulled through a vent hole by a 5-ton winch. As the spout was being pulled through the opening to the outside, the spout became wedged at the point where the collar was to pass through. Several employees used pry bars to free the collar which was under tension. The spout popped out of the vent striking and killing an employee who was standing beside the spout. Employer provided but did not require use of hard hats.

Inspection Results

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued two citations alleging serious violations. The employee should have been able to recognize that this situation was hazardous. Additionally, the investigation revealed that this employee was not wearing personal protective equipment in this hazardous situation. Had he been wearing a hard hat this death might have been prevented.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

Employees must be instructed in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions. They must also be instructed in the regulations applicable to the work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)].

Questions: How can we work safely around heavy equipment? How do we prevent struck-by incidents involving power tools?

Instructions

Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. You must answer all of the questions before submitting the quiz.

You can take the quiz two ways: FLASH or HTML. To take the FLASH quiz click on the button below.

Begin Quiz

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1. When working on or near any construction zone _____.

2. To help protect you from struck-by hazards your employer must _____.

3. Among the list of ways workers can protect themselves when working on or near any construction zone, is to _____.

4. Employers must protect workers from struck-by hazards by _____.

5. Personal protective equipment used incorrectly _____.


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