In our fourth and final installment on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “Fatal Four” construction safety hazards we will focus on caught-in/-between hazards. In 2011, these hazards accounted for only 19 fatalities or 3 percent of the 721 construction related deaths.
Caught-in or caught-between accidents occur when someone is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed or pinched between two or more objects. Examples include getting your hand caught in the moving parts of an unguarded piece of machinery, being buried by trench cave-ins and getting pinned between a wall and piece of heavy equipment. These accidents are similar to struck-by accidents with the main difference that in caught-in/between accidents is a result of crushing injuries and not the initial impact as they are with struck-by accidents.
Power Tools & Machinery Accidents
To avoid being caught in machinery and power tools you should never operate any piece of equipment where the safety guards are missing or have been intentionally removed. Never wear loose clothing or anything that could hang down and get caught in moving parts and pull you in. Make sure all equipment is properly de-energized when not in use to avoid it from accidentally being started. This is especially important when you are doing any kind of work on the equipment such as repairs, changing accessories or performing routine maintenance.
Heavy Equipment Accidents
Heavy equipment on a construction site is a common occurrence and can lead to a false sense of security. Workers should never place themselves in between a moving vehicle and an immovable object such as a wall. As mentioned before, operators don’t always have a clear line of sight all around them. If you are operating a piece of heavy equipment, you should do so correctly and never overload or overwork a piece of equipment as this can cause it to tip over. It is important that if you are operating heavy equipment that you properly wear any seatbelts or safety restraints that it is equipped with. In the event that a piece of equipment does tip over, the cabs of those machines are designed and reinforced to protect the worker. That can’t happen if the worker is thrown or jumps from the equipment as it tips over.
Improperly protected trenches and excavations are another major cause of caught-in or between accidents. Any trench that is deeper than 5 feet needs to have protective systems in place. If the trench or excavation is over 20 feet deep a professional engineers is required to design the protective system. Trenches should be protected by being properly sloped or benched to avoid collapse. Shoring trenches to support the sides of the excavation can also prevent collapse. Utilizing trench boxes and shields can protect workers from being buried or crushed by cave-ins. Heavy equipment use near an excavation should be avoided when workers are inside the trench to avoid causing cave-ins or having the equipment fall into the excavation area. OSHA requires that trenching and excavation work be inspected by a competent person. A competent person is must be trained on the requirements of the OSHA standard, use of protective systems and soil classifications. They are responsible for identifying and eliminating any hazards before any worker enters the area and while work is ongoing. Any trench that is deeper than 5 feet needs to have protective systems in place.
As was the case with our blog on Struck-by Hazards, Fall Hazards, and Electrocution Hazards this is not meant to be a definitive guide on electrocution hazards. It is intended to be an introduction to construction related electrocution and electrical hazards and safety measures to help prevent accidents they can cause. For more information on compliance with OSHA’s construction industry regulations, visit their website at http://www.osha.gov/doc/index.html.