According to OSHA, caught-on or -between hazards are, collectively, one of the four deadliest dangers found on a construction site (learn more about OSHA's Fatal Four). It is also one of the biggest hazards for workers in industrial processing. This is largely due largely to workers getting their fingers, arms, hair, or clothing caught or entangled in unguarded machinery or equipment.
Although it seems like common sense to never place yourself between a piece of equipment and a stationary object, it's easy to find yourself in unexpected danger when you're concentrating on the job at hand. With that in mind, here are some tips to prevent becoming a victim of caught-in or between accidents.
1. Hazard Recognition
Your company's OSHA competent person will have performed a site analysis for each job. Familiarize yourself with the hazards – and potential hazards – you'll encounter on the site. Ask what personal protection systems will be needed for the job and make sure you have the necessary PPE.
Keep in mind that the hazards you face aren't fixed. As the work progresses, the hazards may change and new ones might arise.
2. Equipment Safety
Never use a piece of equipment unless all of the guards are in position and properly adjusted. Make sure that rotating or moving parts are properly guarded.
Always be aware that you can get caught in machinery by belts, pulleys, gears, rotating shafts, and other moving parts. Make sure that you're wearing the correct PPE for the job and avoid loose clothing or any other items, including bracelets or necklaces, that can be caught in the machinery.
3. Maintain Distance
If you're not the one operating a piece of equipment, stay away from it. If you're too close to a machine, you could get pinned between the equipment and a stationary object such as a wall, barrier, or another piece of equipment.
Stay out of the swing radius of equipment; the operator may not be able to see you. If you must approach a piece of equipment, make eye contact with the operator and use a clear hand signal to show that you are approaching the machine (for related advice, see Forklift Safety 101).
4. Respect Barricades
Areas unsafe for pedestrian traffic will be barricaded. Make sure the barricade is properly maintained, and avoid walking within the designated area. If the equipment is in a stationary position, such as a crane, caution tape may be used to warn nearby workers of the crane's swing area. Flagging personnel may also be used to identify unsafe areas. If at any time you see a barrier that has fallen, is loose or is damaged, report it as quickly as possible so it can be repaired or replaced.
5. Monitor Material Movement
When materials are moved overhead, there's a risk of a load being placed on a part of the body, or of the body being caught between the load and a wall or structure. Always work at a safe distance from the load and make sure you don't come between the load and its resting spot.
Caught hazards can be horrific and excruciating. Heed these five warnings so you don't have to experience one.