Caught-in/between construction accidents and how to prevent them

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified four particularly dangerous types of construction accidents. Known as the “Fatal Four” or “Focus Four”, these are:

  • Falls
  • Struck-by objects
  • Electrocution
  • Caught-in and caught-between accidents

This blog post will focus on “caught-in” and “caught-between” construction accidents. These accidents were responsible for the deaths of 275 construction workers from 2011 to 2015, the most recent year for which data is available. Other occupations at risk for such accidents include manufacturing, agriculture, waste collection and disposal, and mining.

What are caught-in and caught-between construction accidents?

These types of accidents fall into the caught-in/between accident category:

  • A worker is caught in or compressed by objects or machinery (for example, when a construction vehicle backs up and pins a construction worker against a solid object)
  • A worker is crushed by collapsing materials (for example, when a construction worker is crushed in a trench collapse)

These accidents have high fatality and injury rates. Older construction workers have especially high fatality rates in caught-in/between accidents. Between 2011 and 2015, construction workers aged 45 to 65 and older comprised 52% of caught-in/between fatalities.

How to prevent caught-in/between accidents

Employers, construction foremen and construction workers can all play important roles in preventing caught-in/between accidents. Here are some of the ways:

Hand or body part is squeezed between parts of a machine

  • Train workers in the use of safety equipment and automatic shut-offs
  • Use proper lockout procedures to prevent machinery from being accidentally energized
  • Keep hands and other body parts away from moving parts
  • Wear the right kind of work boots

Hair, clothing or jewelry is caught in machinery

  • Wear close-fitting clothing and secure loose parts of clothing
  • Tie back long hair, trim the beard short and do not wear jewelry while working

Pinned between equipment or wall

  • Never stand between moving and immobile objects
  • Don’t work or stand within the radius of rotating equipment
  • Wear a seatbelt when operating vehicles to avoid being thrown from the vehicle and being crushed
  • Keep vehicle foot controls free from mud, snow and debris
  • Make sure heavy equipment has audible back-up alarms
  • Wear high-visibility apparel

Crushed by collapsing materials

  • Brace all stand-alone walls
  • Use caution when handling or loading materials
  • Don’t exceed the load capacity of vehicles or equipment
  • Stack materials properly

Excavations and cave-ins

  • Use shoring equipment or protection systems in all excavations 5 feet
  • deep or more
  • Remain inside the protection system
  • Secure any materials or equipment within two feet of the edge of the trench
  • Take special care after rain or water intrusion; visually inspect the entire length of the trench or excavation
  • Use sloping, benching, shoring, or shielding techniques

Construction workers who have suffered injuries or family members of fatal accident victims may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with an attorney if you have questions about a claim.

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