Entanglement Injury

Last updated: October 21, 2018

What Does Entanglement Injury Mean?

An entanglement injury is any instance of bodily harm that results from hair, clothing, jewelry, or any items worn by someone becoming caught within the movable elements of a machine. Some definitions also include injuries that result from fingers getting caught in machinery.

Entanglement is a subset of caught-in or caught-between injuries, which accounted for 143 workplace fatalities in the United States in 2021, according to the National Safety Council. While some are fatal, entanglement injuries can also be relatively minor, like a painful pinch, or severe, like an amputation.

Safeopedia Explains Entanglement Injury

Due to the frequency of entanglement injuries and their potential severity, OSHA's machine safeguarding standards for both general industries (1910 subpart O) and construction work (1926 subpart I) have a number of requirements that are designed to prevent entanglement. Since the entanglement risk varies depending on the type of machinery, the precise safety measures will reflect the specific mechanisms found in a given workplace.

Entanglement Injuries and Machine Movements

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

  • Pinch points where one or more machine part in motion has the potential to pinch a body part that comes in contact with it (e.g. escalators, pulley systems, belt systems)
  • Crush points where two parts of a machine move toward each other (e.g. a hydraulic cylinder)
  • Wrap points where one or more machine part rotates continuously (e.g. lathes, augers, mixers)

Hazard Controls for Entanglement Injuries

In any workplace with machinery, employers must implement administrative and engineering controls to protect workers from entanglement injuries.

Administrative controls include dress codes that prohibit loose-fitting clothing, untied long hair, or jewelry for anyone operating machinery or working near machines in motion. Workers should also be trained on safe work practices when operating equipment, as well as the proper procedures for shutting off and locking down equipment before performing maintenance operations.

Engineering controls include installing machine guards to prevent contact with its moving parts, as well as emergency shutoff switches or buttons that can be accessed quickly if a worker becomes entangled.


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