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Employers can do more to prevent fatal struck-by injuries in the construction sector, according to a report released Wednesday.
Struck-by hazards are a major cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in construction, with 804 construction workers dying from struck-by injuries, more than any other major industry, during the period of 2011 to 2015, according to a study by CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Struck-by injuries accounted for nearly one in five construction workplace fatalities, with on average 18% of construction workers dying from being struck by an object/equipment or a vehicle.
Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In 2015, 162 construction workers died from struck-by injuries, a 2.5% increase from 2011 and 34% higher than the low point of 121 deaths recorded in 2010, according to the report, which analyzed the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
About half, or 52.2%, of struck-by fatalities were caused by an object or equipment, while about 96% of nonfatal struck-by injuries were due to the same cause, according to the report.
Highway maintenance worker, power-line installer and excavating or loading machine operator occupations were the most dangerous in terms of struck-by fatalities. Highway maintenance workers had the highest rate of fatalities due to struck-by injuries, with 16 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, according to the report.
“Highway maintenance workers are at high risk of being struck by motorists as they perform their work alongside highways exposed to traffic,” the report stated. “The majority of workers in this construction trade are employed with local or state governments. Correspondingly, most victims of fatal struck-by injuries in this trade were public employees in highway, street and bridge construction.”
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, according to the report. By age, 25.3% of struck-by decedents were 45 to 54 years old, the largest proportion among all age groups. While less than 8% of struck-by decedents were 65 years or older, this age bracket experienced the highest rate of struck-by fatalities of any age bracket, at 4.3 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, more than three times the rate for those ages 25-34, according to the report.
“Struck-by injuries and fatalities are preventable,” the report said, with solutions including safety standards and regulations, engineering controls, proper personal protective equipment and safety and health training. “These methods may be applied separately or together based on specific circumstances in order to prevent construction workers from struck-by injuries.”
For example, many struck-by vehicle injuries can be prevented by backup cameras, highly visible clothing, barriers and enforcement in road construction zones and internal traffic control plans, according to the report.
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has called for better safety measures after its annual report revealed an increase in construction fatalities in New York.