If there is one piece of safety equipment synonymous with construction work, it is probably the hard hat. After all, most construction sites feature signs warning workers and visitors that they cannot access the area without proper head coverings.
Falling objects at construction sites are relatively rare, but they are a leading cause of severe worker injury and death. In 2019, 15.4% of the reported construction industry deaths were the result of a struck-by incident. Hard hats do help reduce the risk of someone dying because of an item falling from above, but they do not eliminate that risk nor prevent other injuries. The unfortunate truth about many construction struck-by incidents is that they are largely preventable.
Workers could secure most materials and tools
With the exception of items that workers must actively install at any given moment, it is generally possible to keep all materials and tools at a significant elevation secured so that they will not tumble from a significant height and put people below at risk of getting struck. There are tethers for tools and numerous systems that can help secure raw materials at different types of constructions.
Unfortunately, using such systems can be time-consuming, and investing in them is an upfront cost that many companies would prefer to avoid. Employers may impose impossible timelines and refuse to supply safety equipment. Workers can end up hurt simply because a business did not want to enforce rules about tethering tools or following special practices when moving raw materials at an elevated work site.
Regardless of fault, workers can get benefits
Even if it is obviously a mistake by a coworker that led to a falling object hurting someone, the injured employee will typically have the option of requesting workers’ compensation coverage. The benefits available to them can help cover lost wages and pay for their medical treatment after their injuries. No-fault benefits mean that workers don’t need to prove that their employer could have prevented the incident, nor do they have to establish that they are personally blameless. The only real requirement is that employees directly connect their medical condition to their job and require treatment or time off of work.
Knowing how to avoid an injury can be as important as knowing what to do after one occurs for workers in high-risk professions like construction.