Head injuries resulting from dropped objects at construction sites can be especially devastating to workers. When an object unexpectedly falls onto a construction worker’s head, the impact can cause serious injuries including damage to the central nervous system, concussions, traumatic brain injury, and permanent brain damage.
Being Struck by Falling Objects
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 52,000 construction accidents each year result from falling or dropped objects. Five percent of the workplace fatalities reported in 2015 were caused by the impact of falling objects.
Some of the most commonly dropped items are improperly tethered or contained:
- Water bottles
- Hand tools (hammers, pliers, wrenches)
- Cell phones
- Tape measures
- Building materials including bricks
The International Safety Equipment Association recently released a new industry standard for equipment used to contain or tether items. Design, testing and performance criteria for these items is included in the “American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions” also known as ANSI/ISEA 121-2018. All dropped object prevention solutions must go through dynamic drop testing. Only those pieces of equipment that can withstand the impact of an object dropped multiple times without breaking will be certified under the standard.
The height from which a dropped object falls greatly affects the amount of resulting damage. Due to gravity, the higher the height from which an object drops, the greater the amount of force generated. For this reason, even a small hand tool such as a hammer can cause devastating injuries if it hits workers at a great distance below them. The recent death of an independent contractor in New Jersey who was struck on the head by a small tape measure that fell over 50 stories is one example of the risks associated with even small items that drop on workers.
Protection for Workers
Wearing protective head gear such as hard hats is one of the most effective ways to prevent head injury resulting from dropped objects. Hard hats should undergo proper maintenance and periodic inspections to ensure their effectiveness. Workers should store hard hats out of the direct sunlight, check for chemical damage to the suspension straps, and routinely inspect the hat’s shell for signs of damage and excessive wear including perforations or cracking.
Another way to protect workers from falling objects is to erect toe boards, debris nets, safety screens, or guardrail systems that will prevent a falling object from dropping to a lower level. Other safety precautions to prevent objects from dropping to a lower level include erecting canopy structures or other catch platforms which can keep objects away from edges or openings and barricading areas where dropped items are likely to fall.
Construction workers should wear fall protection harnesses to protect themselves from falling off of a building and engage a fall protection system to harness their tools and other objects that could potentially fall onto unsuspecting workers down below. Providing “connection points” for tools allows tools to be more easily tied off which can prevent accidental droppings. Fall protection gear for tools includes lanyards, wristbands, D-rings, self-vulcanizing tape, tool cinch attachments, and quick spins.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Workers Injured by Dropped Objects
At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. our experienced work injury lawyers assist individuals throughout South Carolina who have been hurt on the job, including those injured by dropped objects at construction sites. Call us today to speak with an experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.
From our six offices in South Carolina, we represent injured workers in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.