Posted On: August 31, 2023

OSHA Focus Four: What are the Most Common Struck-by Hazards?

When it comes to construction site hazards, there are four main categories that cause the majority of all fatalities. These four hazards – Falls, Struck-By, Caught-In/Between, and Electrocution – are often called OSHA's Focus Four hazards (or, more appropriately, the Fatal Four).

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, 65.5% of the construction deaths between 2011 and 2021 were due to OSHA Big Four hazards. The most significant number of victims (35%) died from falls to a lower level, but struck-by incidents are the second-most prevalent by far at 17%.

In this article, we’ll define and identify the most common struck-by hazards, and dive into detail about how to prevent them to avoid getting injured on the job.

What Are Struck-By Injuries?

Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.

There can be a fine line between these injuries and those from another category: Caught-In/Between.

To be categorized as a struck-by injury, rather than a caught-between injury, it needs to be caused by the impact alone. If the injury is caused by being crushed after being struck, it's categorized as caught-between.

What Are the Four Common Types of Struck-By Hazards?

OSHA statistics show that the most common struck-by incidents are due to impact by:

  • Vehicles or heavy equipment like trucks or cranes
  • Falling objects like dropped tools
  • Flying objects like particles
  • Concrete or masonry walls that collapse

How Many Categories of Struck-By Hazards Are There?

Struck-by hazards are broken down into four categories. They include being struck by:

  • Flying object hazards
  • Falling object hazards
  • Swinging object hazards
  • Rolling object hazards

When we compare this list to the most common types of incidents, we can easily categorize falling tools as "struck-by falling object" hazards and flying particles or materials as struck-by flying hazards.

Incidents with vehicles are a little trickier and can depend on the circumstances. Some will be rolling object hazards, and some will be swinging object hazards. They're also the most common by far. In fact, up to 75% of struck-by incidents involve vehicles or heavy equipment.

How Do You Protect Yourself From Struck-By Hazards?

Since most struck-by incidents involve vehicles and heavy equipment, let's start there.

You should be aware of any heavy equipment on your worksite, whether operating or not – and stay away from it if it is in use. Follow all guidelines on communication with heavy equipment operators to get acknowledgment that the operator can see you when you're nearby. Be aware of the swing radius of the vehicle and do not enter that zone.

Be particularly careful of the load – never work beneath a suspended load, stay away from lifted loads, and pay attention to whether loads seem properly balanced.

If you're the one operating this equipment, you should take every precaution to ensure that you and your coworkers remain safe.

Among the most common construction hazards are those presented by public traffic operating near a worksite. Workers need to wear warning clothing – like red or orange vests – with the addition of reflective material for evening or night work. Safety clothing must be paired with traffic signs, barricades, and flaggers to warn and redirect traffic.

You can see the following standards for guidance in full on OSHA’s website, regardless of your role: 29 CFR 1926 Subpart G (Signs, signals, and barricades), §1926.201 (Signaling), §1926 Subpart O (Motor vehicles, mechanized equipment, and marine operations), and §1926.601 (Motor Vehicles).

Injury Prevention

Preventing struck-by injuries by equipment, materials, and debris will require using general work best practices.

First, wearing proper PPE on a worksite can mitigate all sorts of construction hazards, including struck-by incidents. Hard hats can protect you from struck-by falling object hazards, and safety goggles or face shields can protect you from struck-by flying object hazards.

Site hygiene and good materials storage practices are also important. Make sure all work materials are secured so they don't topple and fall. For example, stack materials to prevent sliding, falling, and collapse; keep items out of the flow of foot traffic; and secure material against wind gusts. When working at heights, take precautions to prevent tools, equipment, and materials such as debris, nets, barricades, and signage from falling.

Safe tool use can also prevent flying object incidents. Tools should only be used by trained (and, when necessary, licensed) personnel. It's also important to use appropriate guarding precautions and protective equipment, especially when using powered tools like jackhammers, drills, grinders, pavement saws, or compressed air tools like nail guns. Inspect all tools before use, and discard or repair tools that aren't fit for service. Do not use hand tools with loose, cracked, or splintered handles, and take impact tools with mushroomed heads out of use.

You can find additional guidance in the following standards: §1926 Subpart H (Materials handling, storage, use, and disposal), §1926 Subpart L (Scaffolds), and §1926 Subpart E (Personal Protective Equipment).

Get Struck-By Hazard Training Online

When it comes to Focus Four, OSHA doesn't explicitly require anything called "struck-by training," partly because there's no single standard that covers the topic.

But these are major hazards in construction, so when an OSHA inspector visits your site, it's a sure bet they'll pay attention to potential sources of struck-by injuries. Can your workers recognize struck-by hazards? Do they understand what causes struck-by injuries? Do they know how to mitigate them or eliminate them altogether?

If the answer to any of those questions is “No,” you'll want to provide training focusing on this topic. Since struck-by and caught-between hazards often overlap, you can combine them for your convenience.

Online courses with an OSHA-authorized training provider like us are an effective, stress-free way to ensure everyone learns about these critical OSHA Focus Four topics.

Our OSHA Focus Four: Struck-by and Caught-in-Between Injury Prevention course covers common hazards of both types along with important prevention steps, while our Struck-By and Caught-Between course is a little more in-depth.

Enroll today!

Individual Course

OSHA Focus Four: Struck-By and Caught-In-Between Injury Prevention

Protect yourself from these common but deadly sources of injury at work.

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Struck By and Caught Between

Learn sources and prevention/protection measures for these Focus Four hazards.


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