"I am the only female working in the shop at my company. The men have bigger hands than I do, so I keep my small gloves in my toolbox when I'm not using them. One day I was going to help a co-worker quickly and just grabbed one of the other guys' gloves on the way over thinking that it would be no big deal. The gloves were much too big for my hands, and when I set down the large aluminium frame, the tips of my glove got caught under the frame against the ground. I had to get another guy to come help lift the frame to get my hand out without tipping and damaging the frame. I realized that I should always be wearing the appropriate size gloves to avoid the excess material being caught in or under materials."
Pinch points are areas in which one might become injured as a result of being caught between the moving and stationary parts of machinery or other objects.
Injuries that occur as a result of pinching are not uncommon. It is estimated that about 125,000 individuals suffer from pinch point injuries ranging from mild to severe, and even loss of life. Pinch injuries can range from a bruise to various types of cuts, and even the amputation of a limb. Caught in/between injuries are consistently one of OSHA's Fatal Four injuries in the construction industry each year. These caught between and crush injuries must be avoided as much as possible in any area where the possibility of sustaining them exists.
Following are tips for avoiding pinch point injuries.
- Proper dress code: Wearing the appropriate clothing when working in areas where pinch injuries can occur is critically important. Pants and sleeves should not be too long or too loose. Shirts should be tucked into the pants to reduce the risk of them getting caught in the moving machinery.
- Avoid wearing jewelry: All jewelry should be removed including dangling earrings, necklaces, and rings.
- Proper hair protection: Long hair should be tied back, and braids and pony tails should be kept at the back of the head and secured, so there is no risk of them falling forward or down towards the machinery.
- Appropriate safety gear: The proper personal protective gear should be worn according to the job, and this should include gloves of the right fit, if there is any risk of a pinch injury.
- Pre-Inspection for possible hazards: Before operating any machinery it should be properly inspected for any potential hazards that may be present. Proper safety planning should be conducted at this time, then followed through with during the entire operation of the equipment.
- Stay alert and focused: It is very important that the individual operating the equipment stay totally focused on the job at hand and does not become distracted from keeping their eyes on the moving parts. Make sure that you know the operations of the machine before using it.
- Never extend your hand into the moving parts of a machine. Ensure that the proper tool guards have been installed and that they are in place. If during your pre-inspection you note missing or damaged safety guards, then do not put the machinery into operation. Report the matter to your supervisor immediately.
- If a machine becomes jammed, be sure to know what the proper and safe procedures are for correcting this. Make sure the machine has been turned off and comes to a full stop before progressing with clearing it. Know what the lockout/tagout procedures are. (For more on lockout/tagout procedures check out, Understanding Lockout/Tagout Safety)
- Pinch injuries are not restricted to equipment: It is not just heavy or moving equipment that can cause some serious pinch injuries. These can occur when carrying and stacking heavy items. They can even occur from getting jammed in a door. It is most important to stay alert to potential injuries such as these and what possible threats exist.
There are several regulations that have been put in place by OSHA regarding machine guarding that serves to help to protect against pinching injuries. There are the general regulations under 29CFR1910. There are specific regulations for the various industries.
Pinch points also include those areas where the body becomes caught between two moving parts of machinery, or between a machine and a stationary object or wall. These types of injuries can be avoided by being aware of pinch points and adjusting your position accordingly. If there is ever a possibility that you may become caught between two objects, reassess the position from which you are working so the pinch point is not a hazard.