Struck by an Object

31st Mar 2022

What does it mean when safety professionals talk about “struck by…” injuries? 

It’s a term to describe an incident or injury where a worker is “struck by…” “struck against” or “caught in…”  an object, tool, material, vehicle or piece of equipment or machinery.

In 2021, over a quarter of all workplace injuries in NWT and Nunavut were caused by “struck by” incidents.

There are many ways these types of injuries can happen across all types of work sites and workplaces. Examples include:

  • Being hit by a moving vehicle;
  • Objects flying through the air or falling from overhead and hitting a worker, like snow and ice falling from a rooftop or a tool being dropped;
  • Walking into something that isn’t stored properly on a shelf, maybe something sticking out where it is difficult to see;
  • Walking into a wall or turning too fast and hitting a nearby piece of furniture or machinery, etc.; or
  • Having a body part pinned in moving machine parts.

Who does this impact?

These injuries are particularly high among construction workers and carpenters. However, they also happen frequently with people working in building maintenance (like janitors and building superintendents), nurses, and people working stocking shelves. Even though these jobs see higher than average incident rates, the variety of possible causes means that it can happen to anyone. 

We have all experienced moments where we are a little distracted. Perhaps there is a close call walking towards a door that opens suddenly; someone sees ice falling from the roof just ahead of where they are walking, or someone walked into a box that is left out on the floor. Let’s think about stopping those near misses from happening. A near miss IS a cause for concern.

Injury prevention starts with awareness of our surroundings

Safety checks often called hazard inspections, should be a part of every workday. Whether indoors or outdoors, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. A supervisor and/or safety representative should be doing regular and thorough inspections of the work area(s). However, frontline workers are one of the best resources we have for working safely. Encourage workers to do a visual inspection of their area before they start to work. If anything is amiss, make sure they move it. 

Awareness of our surroundings doesn’t stop at the initial inspection. In this day and age, there are plenty of distractions that we are all guilty of giving into. Cellphones, digital communication devices like a smartwatch, busy schedules that make multi-tasking tempting, and fogged glasses from cold weather are all reasons that we might not be completely aware of our surroundings. 

It is important to pay attention to where we are stepping, stay aware of the surrounding area, and of course always pay attention to traffic whether on the work site, or going to and from the site. If you can’t see, or if your cellphone rings, take a moment and manage the situation before trying to keep moving.

Winter Warning: This is the season when the snow starts melting. Check out the roof and eaves of any building you are walking near, and keep an eye out for ice and snow that might be ready to fall off the building. There are many injuries every year caused by snow and ice falling on workers. 

Other prevention tips

While awareness of our surroundings is always the first step in preventing injury, there are many other things that employers, supervisors, and workers can consider.

Construction Workers

As this is one of the highest impacted professions, there are many work procedures and best practices that can be put in place to help those working in construction and carpentry jobs. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Work sites should be well organized with tools, equipment, and supplies properly stored. 
  • Heavy machinery, equipment, and vehicles should all be operated without distractions. Similarly, if workers are on a site with moving equipment or vehicles, everyone should be aware of their surroundings.
  • Anyone working on a site with moving equipment and vehicles should be trained in using proper hand signals. Here is a list of hand signals commonly used when workers are operating cranes.
  • Remember your personal protective equipment (PPE) on site. Everyone on site should follow what is indicated by your workplace safety procedures. This might include high visibility clothing, hard hats, eye protection, hand protection, etc. 

General tips for any worker

No matter what industry you work in, there are good safety practices that we can all use to stay safe:

  • Good housekeeping. Always keep walkways free of debris, and keep shelves stocked in an organized way without things hanging off the edge. 
  • If you are ever working on or around a doorway, ensure that signage is available to warn people who may attempt to use the door while you are at work.
  • Depending on the job that you are doing, you may require personal protective equipment (PPE) to do your job safely. Your employer will let you know what PPE is required to do your job safely.
  • Does your job involve going in and out of a building? If you are wearing glasses, make sure your vision isn’t impacted, AND make sure the roofs are clear of snow and ice where you are walking.

Resources

Here are some resources to help you work safely: 

  • Hazard Alert – Falling Ice And Snow – a common incident during winter months and spring melt.
  • Codes of Practice – Personal Protective Equipment – WSCC has several Codes of Practice on the types of PPE that can protect you from these types of injuries, including high visibility clothing.
  • Toolbox Talk – The Internal Responsibility System – We all have a responsibility in preventing incidents and injuries from happening. Talk with your employees about how they can prevent these types of injuries from happening.
  • Checklists for hazard assessments – There are a variety of different forms and checklists that can help remind you of what to look for on a site inspection.
  • Podcast: Tips on Worker Visibility – The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) reviews the importance of high visibility clothing when working in low light and low visibility conditions, particularly when working around vehicles and machinery.
  • Infographic – CCOHS has an infographic with safety tips on distracted driving. Post this in break rooms, safety boards, or around doorways to remind workers to stay distraction-free when driving.
  • Struck by Injury information – the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association of Canada has a variety of resources and information on these types of injuries.