The Sky Is Not Falling, But Objects Are

There are thousands of falling object injuries yearly, and while many people believe these are rare accidents, they are widespread. They are so common, in fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues detailed reports about exactly how people are injured by falling objects every year.

For example, in 2020, 44,760 workers were “struck by a falling object or equipment – other than powered vehicle,” (For the record, 1,000 workers were “struck by falling part of powered vehicle still attached.”) From the data:

  • Struck by falling object or equipment, unspecified: 840 workers injured
  • Struck by object or equipment dropped by injured worker: 10,340 workers injured
  • Struck by object or equipment dropped by other person: 1,250 workers injured
  • Struck by object falling from vehicle or machinery – other than vehicle: 280 workers injured
  • Struck by falling object or equipment, n.e.c.: 30,040 workers injured

Another 7,510 workers were injured by “discharged or flying objects,” which are categorized differently than “falling” objects. So as you can see, a lot of objects are hitting a lot of people every year. The BLS also reports 250 fatal injuries related to falling or flying objects in 2020.

The statistics only cover reported injuries, which means there are likely many underreported falling object injuries. When you work in construction, objects can fall at any moment. Equipment and other tools are the most likely falling object accidents that occur. If you suffer an injury from a falling object, you should speak to a workers’ compensation attorney from KBG Injury Law in York, PA.

Causes of falling object accidents

Construction sites are riddled with dangers, including tools, PPE, or other equipment falling from a higher level onto a lower level. Within that definition, there are two types of dropped objects.

Static dropped objects. These are objects in a static position, not moving and dislodging from wear and tear. An external force does not need to be present for the object to fall; it will fall due to its weight and the instability of the floor underneath.

Dynamic dropped objects. These accidents occur when an external force pushes the object to fall from a higher to a lower level. When a hammer is dropped from a scaffold because of someone accidentally kicking it, that is external force.

Ultimately, negligence is to blame for these accidents, but there are common causes to stay aware of, such as:

  • Improper stacking
  • Failure to secure a tool
  • Lack of training
  • Incorrect use of tools or machinery
  • Heavy loads
  • Unsecured loads
  • Malfunctioning equipment
  • Lack of warning signs
  • Not following safety standards
  • Faulty materials
  • Not using safety devices that can catch or prevent falling objects

Areas where these accidents occur

Most of these accidents occur on York, PA construction sites because many different contractors and teams work simultaneously. Common areas where dropped object accidents can happen are:

  • Near storage racks
  • Near ladders
  • Near scaffolds
  • Walking through a gangway
  • Work platforms
  • Cranes
  • Manual lifts or scissor lift
  • Near industrial power trucks

What injuries are caused by falling objects?

Fatalities are prevalent in falling object accidents, but there are other severe injuries that construction workers can face when dealing with a struck-by-object incident. Among the injuries most commonplace in these accidents are:

The extent of your injuries will vary depending on the weight of the object and where it hits you. Suppose there is a hammer that falls and strikes your foot. You might suffer broken toes, bruises, and pain. Conversely, imagine a stack of plywood falling on your head; you can suffer a permanent disability and be in a wheelchair.

Reducing these accidents on York, PA worksites

Falling objects are preventable if everyone does their part on a construction site. Employees and construction site managers must both take measures to prevent injuries. While you can do everything right, negligence on the part of both employers and co-workers can cause you injury. Tips for reducing falling object accidents include:

  • Wear PPE on the job site, such as helmets, hard-toe boots, and goggles
  • Stay out of areas with posted warning signs
  • Avoid barricaded hazard zones unless you are removing a hazard with authorization
  • Do not stand or walk near fall zones, especially when there is a crane or hoist in operation
  • Use the proper equipment for the task at hand
  • Do not stand under areas where overhead work is being performed
  • When stacking materials, do not go over the appropriate height
  • Inspect equipment and tools before your shift
  • Do not use faulty equipment
  • Do not exceed weight restrictions when operating a lift or crane
  • If you’re working overhead, ensure you fasten your tools appropriately, so they do not fall

Construction managers are working on tight deadlines and want to save as much time as possible to reach the end goal. Therefore they may avoid protocols and hope for the best. The result is that when they ignore these protocols, people suffer injuries, and they point the finger elsewhere. If your manager wants you to perform duties without the proper safety, do not listen to them because it can result in an injury to you or someone else. Talk to a York attorney if you feel unsafe on the job.

OSHA says to “stop the drop”

Regarding workplace accidents, especially on construction sites, being struck by objects is in the fatal four of injuries. These accidents lead to workplace deaths, and OSHA has taken various measures to stop the drop and prevent these accidents. On a construction site, the policies and procedures that OSHA implements are not optional, and when an employer disregards these measures they will face consequences. The employer will not only pay for your injuries but also face an OSHA investigation and penalties for these violations. OSHA also wants to work to stop the drop by requiring hard hats and other head protection near areas where an object can fall.

Additionally, construction sites must have board screens and guardrails to prevent injuries. A crew on an upper floor must barricade the area below where objects can fall. Lastly, there should be a canopy structure to catch falling objects.

Construction workers know there is a risk when they go to work, but they also know there are policies to protect them and keep them from harm. When there is careless behavior by construction site managers and contractors, they must compensate you for your injuries and losses. If the equipment was faulty or unstable, the manufacturer might bear some responsibility for your injuries.

You do not go to work to suffer an injury or permanent disability; you go to earn a living. Talk to a York personal injury lawyer today if you suffered an injury due to a falling object because of someone else’s negligence anywhere in Pennsylvania. Contact KBG Injury Law at 717-848-3838, or completing our contact form to discuss your options and begin a claim. We have additional offices in Hanover, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg.