Being struck by an object or piece of equipment resulted in 473 work-related deaths in 2011, according to the 2014 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” In case reports on deaths due to falling or flying objects, OSHA notes that seemingly innocuous activities can have deadly consequences.
In one example, a worker was standing under a scaffold in which ladders were being hoisted. Sections of the ladder fell 50 feet, striking the worker – who was not wearing head protection – and killing him.
Typical moving object hazards:
- Automated machinery, such as a spot-welding robot.
- Unsecured objects, such as a container on the deck of a moving ship.
Typical flying object hazards:
- Ejected parts, such as swarf (sharp metal waste) ejected during metal drilling.
- Thrown objects, such as scaffold coupling.
Typical falling object hazards:
- Loads falling from height during lifting and handling operations (e.g. boxes falling from a pallet when being lifted by a forklift truck).
- Objects being dislodged during work at height (e.g. slates dislodged from a roof during roof work).
- Objects falling from height because of adverse weather conditions, or wear and tear (e.g. scaffold boards blown off a scaffold in strong winds; duct work falling from a ceiling due to deterioration of fixings).
- Toppling of unstable objects (e.g. an unsecured ladder; a poorly-stacked load on racking).
Though people are not injured by falling objects as often as they are by vehicles and falls from height, the injuries received may well be serious or fatal.
Striking Against Fixed or Stationary Objects
- Objects that project into a pedestrian area or route (e.g. stored stock metal sheets that partly project into a walkway).
- Narrow doorways in a pedestrian route.
- Low overheads (e.g. pipework at head height above a gantry walkway).
OSHA provides the following safety tips on falling and flying objects:
- Always wear a hard hat.
- Stack work materials and secure tools to prevent them from sliding, falling or collapsing.
- Use tileboards, screens or guardrails on scaffolds to prevent falling objects.
- Use debris nets, catch platforms or canopies to catch or deflect falling objects.
Power tools and machines:
- Wear appropriate eye protection – including safety glasses, goggles and faceshields – around machines or tools that may cause an object to become airborne.
- Ensure protective guards on tools are in good condition.
- Only allow trained workers to operate powder-actuated tools.
Cranes and hoists:
- Avoid working underneath moving loads.
- Barricade hazard areas and post warning signs.
- Inspect cranes and hoists to ensure all components are in good condition.
- Do not exceed lift capacities.
- Reduce compressed air used for cleaning to 30 psi, and only use with appropriate guarding and protective equipment.
- Never clean clothing with compressed air.