Entanglement Injury

Definition - What does Entanglement Injury mean?

An entanglement injury is an injury that results from clothing, hair, jewelry, or another accessory becoming caught within a movable element of workplace machinery, such as a motor drive shaft.

Some definitions also include incidents in which fingers are caught in machinery as entanglement injuries; however, other definitions would describe this as a form of machine entrapment. According to the U.S. National Safety Council, entanglement injuries are the eighth most common preventable workplace safety incident. The severity of an entanglement incident can range from a “near miss” (no harm) to a fatal injury.

Safeopedia explains Entanglement Injury

Entanglement injuries are part of a larger category of “contact with objects or equipment” injuries that have a modern injury rate in the U.S. of 200,000 lost work hours and 700 fatalities per year. Due to the frequency of entanglement injuries and their potential severity, regulations intended to prevent entanglements exist in all economically advanced countries.

There are three primary forms of machine movement that are associated with entanglement injuries. These are:

  • Pinch-point movements—where two or more parts move together, and one part is moving in a circle. Pinch-point machines include escalators and other machinery with pulley and belt systems.

  • Crush-point movements—where two parts of a machine move toward each other, such as with a hydraulic cylinder.

  • Wrap-point movements—where one or more parts rotate continuously. These include lathes, augers, and mixers, among many other types of equipment.

Employers face both general duty obligations and specific standard obligations to prevent employees from entanglement injuries. These include the implementation of administrative hazard controls and engineering controls.

Administrative hazard controls that exist to prevent entanglement injuries include dress codes that prohibit loose-fitting clothing, untied long hair, or jewelry that could become entangled. Workers should also be taught safe work practices, which include not working alone with exposed entangling equipment and proper procedures for shutting and locking down equipment before performing maintenance operations.

Employers must also implement engineering controls, including the placement of guards that prevent contact with a machine’s moving parts, as well as accessible emergency shutoffs for situations in which a preventative measure fails and a worker becomes entangled.

OSHA has a variety of specific standards for the safeguarding of machinery in both general industry (standards 1910 subpart O) and construction work (standards 1926 subpart I), many of which are specifically designed to prevent entanglement injuries. Because entanglement hazards vary depending on the machinery involved, many of these standards address risks associated with specific types of machinery. OSHA recognizes the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) applicable standards as providing employers with appropriate guidance for how to comply with their legal obligations to prevent entanglement injuries.

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