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Last updated: May 2, 2019

What Does Trapping Mean?

Trapping refers to a situation in which an individual becomes trapped between two foreign objects within a workspace.

Within the context of working-at-height, it is frequently referred to as a trapping/crushing hazard to denote that the dangers associated with trapping are usually tied to the trapped individual being crushed against a foreign object.

Safeopedia Explains Trapping

The risks associated with trapping typically refer to a situation in which part of a worker’s environment is mobile or movable, and this movable part shifts in such a manner as to pin all or part of the worker’s body between two or more obstructions within the workplace.

Trapping and crushing hazards pose a potentially fatal risk to workers. For instance, workers have been killed by trapping accidents during the use of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), also called elevating work platforms (EWPs) or aerial work platforms (AWPs). These are vehicles in which a boom arm, scissor lift, or other elevating apparatus is capable of lifting a basket or platform that workers can conduct work from. The operation of an MEWP has resulted in trapping injuries and fatalities in situations where employees have been caught between the MEWP’s basket or control panel and an overhead obstruction that was either not properly accounted for during the planning of the job or due to worker error. MEWP manufacturers have only recently started implementing fail-safe systems designed to prevent or reduce the dangers of trapping, so the majority of MEWPs in operation do not offer workers substantive protection from trapping hazards.

Because the dangers of trapping are a known hazard of MEWP operation, employers may be found liable for injuries or fatalities if they are found to have failed at providing workers with sufficient training and safe-work policies necessary to protect them. According to the international powered access federation (IPAF), a hazard assessment of the elevated work site is necessary for employers to meet their due diligence obligations to employee safety. This assessment should be task-, site-, and equipment-specific, and it should include both minimum training requirements and emergency response procedures should a an employee become trapped.


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