OSHA’s Focus Four includes injuries from hazards such as falls, electrocutions, caught in or between, and struck by injuries. These four types of injuries make up the most deadly types of accidents in construction.
Based on the preliminary findings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the report, Manner in Which Fatal Work Injuries Occurred, 2009, 10 percent out of 17 percent of the total construction death toll (4,340) was attributed to “struck by” hazards. The BLS also reported that “struck by” deaths associated with cranes was 28 percent of the total crane-related deaths for 2008. Three “caught in” related incidences, albeit associated with non-crane objects, occurred that year.
Here are some general work practices to prevent injuries based on OSHA’s training module on “Caught in or Between” and “Struck By:”
Site Determination. A pre-work plan should be in place before project commencement. The plan should involve identifying work areas where hazards are present, hazard assessment and determining task flow. Ask your employer about this plan, as well as the hazards present in your work area and how you can avoid these hazards.
Inspect whether materials are in good working condition or not. Inspect equipment and ropes based on your company’s safety checklist. Make sure hand tools and devices are well-maintained as well. Report any damages if you spot them.
Avoid working beneath suspended loads. You’ll never know when accidents will happen; do not leave anything to chance. Keep away from suspended loads and barricade these areas to prevent worker access.
Safety training. Safety training will provide you a solid background on the different types of commonly used crane in the industry and their mechanisms. Safety training will teach you how to inspect equipment, personal protective equipment (PPEs), coordinate with equipment operators, follow lockout/tagout procedures, and working with scaffolds and suspended loads.
Be aware of equipment pinch points. Pinch points are points where two surfaces of rotating objects (e.g. chains or driver belts) meet, according to the Ohio State University Extension’s Fact Sheet on Points of Peril. Often times, these belts have to be greased or cleaned to avoid jams and untimely dysfunction. The pinch points between these components have also been known risks to people because they are spots where fingers, extremities and clothing often get caught. People have been reported to lose entire fingers due to pinch point-related mishaps.
To avoid getting caught in pinch points, identify places where pinch points are present and keep a safe distance from them. When cleaning or working near pinch points, do not wear loose clothing. Follow lockout/tagout procedures. Return shields from where you have removed them.
Secure everything that needs to be secured. Anchors, exhaust stacks, loads and even anchor chains often fall from cranes. Make sure these things are secured to keep them from accidentally falling and hitting workers. Injuries stemming from these incidences can be debilitating, and can even lead to death.
Protect yourself from workplace injuries by enrolling in our OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 Outreach Training courses. For more safety tips and to get your fill of what the training modules are all about, check out our blog posts on electrical safety, hazard communication, and general health and safety.