Preventing “Struck-By” Accidents

According to OSHA, the term “struck-by” is defined as injuries produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment. The impact of the object is the cause of the injury.

Proper equipment installation and maintenance on an oil rig is often more important than in other industries. Due to the unique processes used in drilling, vibration and material fatigue are heightened, which can result in catastrophic failure. There are times when improperly installed equipment falls off the rig or the equipment comes apart, is thrown and strikes an employee.

OSHA breaks down struck-by hazards into the following categories:

  • Struck-by a flying object
  • Struck-by a falling object
  • Struck-by a swinging object
  • Struck-by a rolling object

These apply to the oil and gas industry in the following ways:

Struck-by a flying object

The catastrophic failure of equipment on the oil rig can often result in the equipment breaking apart and being propelled with considerable force at an employee.

Examples of this hazard would be a high-pressure hose connection that fails causing the whipping hose to strike an employee, a length of chain fails and hits the employee, wire rope breaks and strikes a worker, a pipe that is over-pressurized breaks apart and pieces of it hit a worker. Broken bones, punctures, and lacerations can result.

Protect employees from these types of injuries by inspecting equipment connections, checking pressure gauges, using proper lubrication, and replacing defective chains and wire rope. Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) like eye and face protection.

Struck-by a falling object

Objects falling off the rig’s superstructure, the tops of tanks, building roofs, scaffolding, aerial lifts, cranes and forklifts can strike employees working nearby. These items could be pipe, tools, bolts, lumber or anything lying around loose. Gravity causes the object to travel with speed and force. Broken bones and puncture injuries can occur when workers are struck.

Protect employees from being injured by falling objects by using appropriate toe boards, identifying and barricading the areas below work zones, and requiring PPE such as hard hats to be used.

Struck-by a swinging object

When tripping pipe in and out, the derrickman or the floor hands can be struck by the suspended pipe. Workers can also be struck by traveling block as it moves up and down.

Another common piece of equipment found on oil and gas sites is the crane. Excavators are also used to dig the shale pit and level off the site. Crushing injuries are often the result of being struck by the revolving superstructure of a crane or an excavator.

Train new employees in the operation of the drill rig and where to safely stand when pipe is being tripped in or out. Protect employees by barricading the swing radius of cranes and excavators. Display signage on cranes that identifies swing hazard areas.

Struck-by a rolling object

Semi-tractor trailers, crew trucks, service vehicles, end loaders, excavators and forklifts can pose struck-by hazards. Severe crushing injures can occur due to the weight and force of being hit by this equipment.

Protect employees on the ground by instructing equipment operators to be aware of employees working around the equipment and always providing one or more trained spotters. Workers on the ground should stay alert and be aware of equipment moving nearby.