At Work At Home On the Road

When Inanimate Objects Attack, More than Ego can be Bruised

  • ​From age 15 to 24, being struck by or against objects (not including vehicles) is the leading cause of unintentional injury resulting in an emergency room visit, according to NSC data. At this age, many of these injuries are attributed to sports.

    But, you may be surprised to learn it is the second or third leading cause of emergency room visits for almost every other age group. From age 25 to about 65, being struck by or against an object is the third most common injury, and for those older than 65, it's second, following falls.

    Sometimes, the main concern after being struck by or against an object is, "I hope nobody saw me." It can be embarrassing to walk into a wall, for example. But other times this type of injury can be very serious. In 2013, 811 Americans died after being struck and more than 4.2 million were injured badly enough to go to a hospital emergency room, according to NSC data. Men more often than women are injured.

    Many of these instances are due to hazards – and lack of attention – while at home or in your community.

    Cell Phone Distracted Walking


    How likely are you to be struck by or against an object in your day-to-day life? That depends. Do you look at your phone – or talk on it – while walking?

    Aside from sports injuries, cell phone distracted walking is a major cause of injury. It has become such a big problem that Injury Facts, the statistical report on unintentional deaths and injuries published by NSC, began including statistics on cell phone distracted walking in 2015.

    Over the past 15 years, the use of cell phones has increased 8-fold in the United States, and walking into walls and other motionless objects has increased, correspondingly. Thousands of injuries occur every year from phone-induced distracted walking. Research shows mobile phone use by pedestrians reduces situational awareness in a way similar to cell phone distracted driving.

    These Also Cause 'Struck-by' Injuries at Home


    Other ways to be injured by objects include:

    • Being hit by falling storage boxes
    • TV and furniture tip-overs
    • Walking into open drawers
    • Opening a door into someone
    • Being hit by flying debris when mowing the lawn
    • Falling off a bicycle
    • Striking your hand with a hammer


    What Can You do About It?


    There are many things vying for our attention every day, and a lack of focus on the task at hand can lead to tragedy, especially in riskier situations. First and foremost, it's important to pay attention.

    • Put the phone down and raise your head
    • Don't carry something in a way that will obstruct your view
    • Make sure drawers and cabinets are always closed when not in use
    • Only open one drawer at a time to prevent a tip-over
    • Don't stack heavy boxes at a higher level; keep them on the floor
    • Use extra caution around corners and doorways
    • Remove rocks, branches, toys and other objects from the lawn before mowing
    • Arrange furniture in a way that keeps walkways clear and minimizes the chance of a strike


    And, by all means, be present in whatever you're doing. It could save you a lot of pain in the long run.

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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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