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How can I prevent injuries from falling and flying objects?

Falling and flying objects are serious workplace risks -- especially at construction sites, areas where machinery is being used, and workplaces where employees are working on multiple levels. According to the National Safety Council, in 2011 alone, falling and flying objects resulted in 473 job-related deaths.

In one case, a worker who wasn't wearing a helmet was standing beneath a scaffold onto which ladders were being hauled. Parts of the ladders fell 50 feet to the ground and hit the worker on the head, killing him. In another instance, a carpenter was using a nail gun, when one of the nails passed through the wall and flew 30 feet to hit another worker in the head. That worker was not wearing head protection and he died.

Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the workers involved had followed these construction zone safety tips:

-- Always done a safety helmet.

-- Safely stack work materials so they cannot fall, slide or collapse.

-- Use screens, guardrails, toeboards, debris nets, canopies and catch platforms on scaffolds to keep objects and people from falling.

-- Wear appropriate eye protection at all times.

-- Check guards on tools to make sure they are in good condition to protect the eyes and bodies of workers from flying debris.

-- Only give trained employees access to dangerous machinery.

-- Do not work underneath loads being moved by cranes and hoists.

-- Use warning signs and barricade hazardous areas.

-- Never exceed lift capacities on hoists or cranes.

These are just some of the most important safety strategies to avoid workplace accidents from flying and falling objects. However, if they were closely adhered to, the vast majority of such accidents and the deaths related to them would be avoided. Families of California workers who are killed in such accidents, and workers who are injured, should know that workers' compensation benefits are likely available, which can help them pay for injuries, medical care and lost family income.

Source: Safety Health, "Falling and flying objects," accessed Aug. 24, 2016

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