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Construction Leads U.S. Industries in Struck-By Accidents, Deaths

September 19, 2017

The headlines say it all: “Worker killed by steamroller,” “Worker hit and killed on Highway 9,” “Worker hit, killed in construction zone.”

Highway maintenance workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the construction field, as do power-line installers and excavators.

So says a new study that examines the role of “struck-by” hazards in the cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in construction.

The study, by the Center for Construction Research and Training, found that from 2011 to 2015, 804 construction workers died from struck-by injuries, more than any other major industry including agriculture and transportation.

Construction also had the highest rate of nonfatal struck-by injuries among all industries.

About half (52.2%) of the struck-by fatalities were caused by an object or equipment, the study found.

Struck-by hazards originate from many sources. The most common include:

  • accidental hits by cranes, heavy equipment and loader trucks;
  • falling, flying, slipping, rolling and swinging equipment and materials;
  • poorly stacked heavy materials that may fall, slip and slide;
  • objects leaning against walls or posts;
  • unmarked low beams or pipes at site.

The study found that highway maintenance workers had the highest rate of fatalities due to struck-by injuries, with 16 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

The number of struck-by fatalities tracked the overall fatality trend in construction, falling during the recession and increasing afterward. In 2015, 162 construction workers died from struck-by injuries, a 2.5% increase from 2011 and 34% higher than the low point in 2010.

Overall, 57% of struck-by vehicle fatalities were due to being struck by forward-moving vehicles, while 26% were struck by backing-up vehicles.

The study also found that, 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.

The center included a number of recommendations that can help cut the number of deaths caused by struck-by injuries. These included backup cameras, hardhats with illumination and better lighting in road work construction zones.

The prevalence of struck-by deaths and injuries spurred OSHA to come up with plans for curbing such hazards. Struck-by accidents have been incorporated into OSHA’s Focus Four initiative, which concentrates training and resources on the most common types of construction accidents.

Falls, caught-in and caught-between, and electrocution hazards also are on that list.

Sam Abrahamsen is a Safety Resources Coordinator at CCIG. Reach him at 720-330-7941 or

 Is Your Safety Plan Doing the Job?

Training, protective equipment, engineering controls, safety protocols and other solutions can help to prevent struck-by injuries. Need help figuring things out? Don’t hesitate to use the form below to reach out to our Risk Control and Prevention team.

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