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Fatal Georgia Industrial Action Highlights Risk of Being Struck by Objects

A 61-year-old employee has died after being hit by falling equipment in a Georgia construction accident.

WJBF News reported a hoist fell on the victim, who was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital McDuffie, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. 550039_helmet.jpg

A McDuffie County Deputy Coroner said a bridge crane hoist, which was mounted about 20 feet overhead, hit the employee. It’s unclear whether the hoist fell or malfunctioned, or whether the victim as struck after wandering into the path of the crane.

In this case, investigators say the crane hoist weighed as much as 600 pounds. His body was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab. Because the death is considered an industrial accident, it will also be investigated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

It’s unclear whether the victim was wearing a hardhat. And the weight of the hoist in this case may make head protection a mute point. However, our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys know being struck by an object is a leading cause of workplace death in Georgia and throughout the United States. That’s one of the primary reasons work-safety advocates stress the need to wear proper head protection in industrial environments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 732 employees were killed after coming into contact with objects or equipment in 2010, making it the third-leading cause of death behind transportation accidents and workplace violence. In 299 of those cases, the victim was struck by flying or falling objects.

A hardhat may also assist a victim in surviving or mitigating the injuries that result from the fourth-leading cause of workplace deaths: fall accidents. In 2010, a total of 635 employees died in fall accidents.

Additionally, OSHA wants employees to understand hardhats are rated based on the level of protection they can provide. Select the correct hardhat and make sure it’s in acceptable condition. Examine the shell for cracks, dents, burn marks or soft spots. Make sure it adjusts to the proper size.

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.100(a) states: “Employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact, or from falling or flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmets.”

In fact, hardhats are the foundation for your personal protective equipment. “Protecting employees from potential head injuries is a key element of any safety program,” OSHA sates. “A head injury can impair an employee for life or it can be fatal.”

Employers are required to provide employees with hardhats under any of the following conditions:

-When there is a risk of objects falling from above or striking an employee on the head.

-When an employee is at risk for striking his head against a fixed object.

-When accidental head contact with electrical hazards is possible.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.

Additional Resources:
McDuffie County construction accident kills man, 61, By Donna Stillinger, The August Chronicle, Aug. 30, 2012.