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Caught-In/Between Incidents Pose Major Construction Safety Concerns

July 1, 2015
 / Safety / 

CaughtInSMALLBeing stuck between a rock and a hard place can take on a whole new, more dangerous meaning in the construction industry.

According to OSHA, in 2013 the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 4,101 worker fatalities in private industry. Among those deaths, 828 were construction related -- 20.2 percent of the total.

Although a variety of hazards exist on construction sites, 57.7 percent are attributed to what is called the "Fatal Four" or "Focus Four" -- the most common types of construction fatalities. The Fatal Four includes falls, struck-by-object incidents, electrocutions, and caught-in/between incidents.

Addressing the causes and possible prevention of these major causes of injury and fatality can help keep construction workers safe. According to OSHA, eliminating the Fatal Four would save 478 workers' lives in America each year.

In 2013, 21 construction industry deaths were caused by caught-in/between incidents. Although this type of fatality accounts for the fewest deaths in the Fatal Four category, it is still responsible for 2.5 percent of the total worker death count.

A caught-in/between event occurs when a worker sustains an injury as a result of being crushed between two objects, or when he is caught in moving equipment. For example, being hit by a vehicle is a struck-by event, whereas being pinned between a vehicle and another piece of equipment or a wall is a caught-between event.

Knowing the difference when reporting these events allows them to be investigated and addressed properly, and it helps keep them from happening again.

Excavation workers are twice as likely to be killed than other types of construction workers, and cave-ins are a big caught-in/between reason why. Unstable soil, changing weather, the weight of materials, and vibration from traffic can all cause cave-ins on a site, causing crushing and/or suffocation injuries. Improper shoring up of soil is one of the biggest contributing factors to this type of injury and fatality.

Being caught in or caught between moving equipment is another big concern. On work sites, even slow-moving equipment can cause serious injury if the worker is crushed between a vehicle and retaining wall or another object. What would normally be a close call or minor injury can quickly become fatal.

1-4Having clothing or body parts caught up in moving machinery or tools also contributes to this type of event. A simple saw or conveyer belt can easily grab on to loose clothing or a finger placed in the exact wrong spot.

Although caught-in/between fatalities have seen a marked decline in the past decade, there are still too many being reported.

Many of these injuries could be prevented by proper safety planning and enforcement. Following industry standards on machinery safeguards, being aware of vehicles moving within construction sites, and proper safety protocol in excavation work are all important guidelines in continuing to lower the numbers of construction-related fatalities.

HCSS Safety can help you identify potential dangers in the field and train employees on proper safety techniques. With pre-built toolbox talks, meetings, and inspections, foremen can make sure workers are educated on the latest safety regulations and best practices. And observation, near-miss, and incident reporting allow safety professionals to spot trends and leading indicators to correct potential safety issues. 

Read how Dixie Construction uses HCSS Safety to boost its safety program here.

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