One of the leading causes of accidents on the construction site is what is known as Caught-in-between accidents.
These are accidents where a worker’s body part is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed, or pinched between two or more objects.
While these accidents can happen in many ways, on the construction site, it is often a result of collapsing materials, body parts getting pulled into unguarded machinery, getting caught between two vehicles or a moving part and a fixed object, and equipment rollovers.
Some examples include:
- Trenches or excavation sites with inadequate wall bracing
- Scaffolding collapse
- Machinery that is not Locked Out/Tagged Out
- Machinery that has unguarded moving parts
Construction sites are filled with heavy equipment from loaders to cement mixers, conveyors and more, which are often operating within close proximity to each other.
Ways to Prevent Caught-in-Between Accidents
You should customize your safety program and protocols to your worksite and the equipment and machinery being used. These are some suggestions on where you might want to start.
- Always be aware of situations where you can become trapped or crushed by an object. That means, take time to find out where the crush, pinch or squeeze points are.
- Know the danger areas of the machines you are working with or around that can grab and injure body parts. Beware of being caught between moving parts of equipment such as conveyors.
- Never operate machinery without the proper guards in place.
- Be sure to use proper lockout/tagout procedures before adjusting, clearing a jam, repairing, or servicing a machine.
- Maintain a safe distance when walking near machinery, paying attention to any posted warnings and staying clear of moving parts.
- Install adequate bracing, or rigging, to ensure that items do not fall or move unexpectedly.
- Always make eye contact with equipment operators. Never walk behind, or in a swing radius of, machinery.
- Dress appropriately for work with pants and sleeves that are not too long or too loose. You want to be visible by using reflective clothing.
- Secure your equipment. Any equipment with parts workers could get caught-in-between should have a system to prevent it from accidentally being turned on during a repair or maintenance.
- Heavy machinery like forklifts and cranes should be equipped with rollover protection to prevent tipping. For instance, cranes can easily tip if they are overloaded.
- Support trenches. Any trench that is between 5 and 20 feet deep must be supported by sloping, benching, a trench box or shield, or shoring. Deeper trenches must be designed by an engineer.
- Never enter unprotected trench or excavation 5 feet or deeper without an adequate protective system in place; some trenches under 5 feet deep may also need such a system.
- Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.
- Make sure employees have a safe way to get in and out.
Training is a key part of your safety program and safety culture. Make sure workers know how to recognize the hazards and know how to avoid them, too. And most of all, be sure to comply with safety protocols at your jobsite.