Caught-in and caught-between hazards cause serious injury
Caught-in or caught-between incidents create some of the most gruesome –and deadly – workplace accidents. It is essential for safety and for worker morale that employers take all possible steps to eliminate these hazards.
But first, just what is a caught-in or caught-between accident? According to OSHA, this type of accident occurs when someone is “squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object.”
- Caught in or pulled into machinery including clothing and body parts caught in saws
- Compressed or crushed between objects such as semi-trailers and a dock wall
- Collapsing walls
What kind of construction hazards cause these accidents?
These tragic accidents can include getting caught or crushed in equipment, tangled up and pulled into a moving object, crushed or smashed between two objects, getting stuck between a moving and a fixed object, or crushed between two moving objects.
These hazards often occur with:
- Unguarded moving parts on machinery
- Machinery or those parts of machinery that are not locked-out or shut down during maintenance
- Bare, unprotected excavations and trenches
- Poorly supported or balanced heavy machinery and large vehicles (back-hoes, etc.) that tip over
- Collapsing walls, ceilings, or floors during demolition
- Any place where people are near moving equipment and immovable objects.
Trench and excavation cave-ins have shown the most significant decrease in private construction fatalities over the years. Increased awareness of dangers and proper use of excavation safety techniques and equipment has greatly improved the safety of workers in these areas.
Tips for safeguarding workers
Unfortunately, so many of these tragic accidents could have been avoided by merely recognizing the hazard and then stopping work until the danger is corrected. Employers are responsible for properly training workers and ensuring their safety, but on a busy worksite, “stuff happens” if no one pays attention.
Airbill.com has come up with 12 tips to prevent and correct caught-in and caught-between construction hazards:
1) Be familiar with the equipment to know where the pinch, sheer, wrap and
crush points are located, as well as pull-in areas
2) Shut down equipment before doing repairs or inspections
3) Chock the wheels on equipment that could move or roll
4) Never work under equipment supported only by a jack; use a secondary
5) Use cylinder safety locks on equipment that support hydraulic cylinders
to prevent the release of stored energy
6) Make sure all guards are in place and properly secured after servicing
7) Stand to the side and be clearly visible to the tractor driver when hitching or
8) Leave an escape route to prevent being pinned between two objects
9) Take extra caution when working around equipment that uses belts,
chains, sprockets or PTO shafts
10) Watch for people carrying objects that block their view of you or their
11) Keep your focus on what you and the people around you are doing
12) Eliminate all fooling around in the work area
How to dress to avoid accidents
Airbill.com also lists some “dress for success” tips you can follow to avoid these accidents.
- Wear close-fitting clothing
- Tuck your shirt into your pants
- Button long-sleeve shirts at the cuff (short sleeve shirts are preferred, if possible)
- Do not wear gloves when working near rotating shafts or other moving machinery parts
- If you must wear gloves, make sure they are suitable for your task by confirming it with a supervisor
- Do not wear jewelry at work
- If you wear a medical alert bracelet, secure it with an adhesive band
- Wear long hair in a bun, tie it back or cover it with a cap or hairnet
- Keep facial hair short; cover long facial hair with a net, use clips or elastic bands to keep it away from moving parts
Trenches, ditches, and other excavations require special equipment and techniques
Cave-ins and collapsing sides are very real and very dangerous hazards during any excavation work. Safety and Health Magazine warns “a cave-in can occur when the soil is unstable; too much weight is to close to the sides of the excavation; water is in the excavation site; or conditions change because of weather, including heavy rain, freezing and melting.
Over the years, most employers have taken many measures to prevent these accidents, but there is still danger whenever someone does not put safety first.
OSHA lists some ways to make excavation sites safer, including:
- Never work in an unprotected trench more than five feet deep
- Enter and exit a trench using a ladder, stairway, or on a properly designed ramp
- Stay inside the protected zone
Employers can use several different methods for protection inside the trench. Be sure any trench over five feet deep uses at least one of these methods:
- Slope or “bench” sides to avoid sheer vertical walls
- Install a trench box or shield to protect workers in case of a wall collapse.
- Use wood or other systems to shore (or enclose) the sides of the trench.
Training to prevent caught-in and caught-between accidents
Proper training makes a difference. It is essential that workers have proper training on how to spot, correct, and avoid caught-in and caught-between accidents. Learn more about our construction safety courses that include how to prevent these accidents on the jobsite.