Struck by something (eg sharp knives or falling objects)

Injury statistics

Being injured by a moving object (e.g. being struck by a falling object or a cut from a hand knife) accounts for over 10% of major injuries reported to HSE in the food and drink industries. This is the third largest category of reported injuries after manual handling and slips. The total number of injuries from this cause is around 700 per year of which about 100 are major injuries.

A third of the injuries are caused by falling objects (eg an item falling from a storage rack), a quarter are from hand tools (especially hand knives) with the third highest cause being hit by moving pallet trucks etc..

Managing the risk

Work area risk assessments should include looking at this particular risk, especially as 'struck by' injuries are common and are likely to occur almost anywhere.

Falling objects

  • Ensure items stored above ground level (eg on storage shelving) are stable and will not fall easily if disturbed. Store heavier items on or near the ground and lighter items higher up.
  • Give careful consideration to methods of stacking, handling and movement of goods to prevent articles falling.
  • Make sure tall self-standing objects (eg gas cylinders) or objects leaning against walls are either stable if knocked, or secured.


  • Hand knives cause the greatest number of injuries and should be safely stored/sheathed when not in use.
  • When hand knives are in regular use, knife resistant protective clothing should be worn as determined by the risk assessment (eg for butchering, an apron and forearm guard/glove for the non-knife hand).
  • Hand tools should be maintained in good condition so that undue force is not required to use them.

Moving objects

  • Pedestrian operated pallet trucks, racks, trolleys etc should use designated routes away from other workers where possible. The person pushing/pulling should have good visibility.
  • Risk assessment should consider what other work area specific hazards may be present (eg rolling barrels or kegs, hoist hooks, items ejected from machines).

Further guidance

British Standards on protective clothing to protect against knife cuts

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Updated 2024-02-09