Injuries and Illness

Pinchpoint Accidents: Tips for Prevention

Yesterday we told you where and why pinchpoint accidents happen. Today, here are ideas for their prevention.

Yesterday’s Advisor began a discussion of what are called “pinchpoint” or “caught-between” accidents. These are events in which a worker’s body is trapped between two surfaces, one of which may be moving with great force.

Most examples include workers’ limbs caught in manufacturing machinery, but the definition is far broader. Workers injured by falling between a scaffold and a wall, or crushed against a gate when an unattended vehicle slid on ice, are also among this type of accident.

However they happen, pinchpoint events can be serious. OSHA reports that nearly 7.900 workers suffered amputations from such accidents in 2006. Many others were killed.

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To reduce this carnage, OSHA has issued guidance on steps employers can take to avoid these tragedies. And, in fact, protections against pinchpoint accidents are mandated by several OSHA standards, including those on machine guarding, lockout/tagout, hand and power tool safety, conveyors and concrete construction. Here are some thoughts on how you can meet those standards:

Guarding. The primary defense against pinchpoint accidents is proper guarding. A machine guard forms a physical barrier keeping the employee out of the hazard area. The hazard is eliminated unless the guard is ineffective or just plain absent.

Sometimes that’s the case, notes safety consultant Ron Miller in BLR’s OSHA Compliance Advisor newsletter. Especially on foreign-built machinery, there may be no guards or those that are there may be easily removed. “The equipment arrives, say, from Italy,” Miller says, “then, the safety guy goes out and says, ‘Oh my goodness, hazards but no guards!’ Retrofitting at this point is expensive. Advance planning is the key.”

Lockout/Tagout. As guards may need to be removed to service machinery, having a process to be sure the equipment is stopped dead is crucial. That’s what a well-designed and carefully executed lockout/tagout regimen does.

Secondary Controls. Some processes require employees to routinely enter the “danger zone,” often to feed or remove product. In this case, guarding is impossible. The solution then is threefold: Engineering controls such as a two-hand start bar make the worker move to safety just to run the machine; written safety procedures outline the safe way to do things; and training teaches hazard recognition and reinforces using proper procedures.

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Of these steps, training may be the most important, as other safeguards may not be observed without it. But, of course, that leads to the problem raised by most every safety training need—having the time and materials to do it. For this reason, we’d like to bring to your attention,the BLR program, OSHA Training System.

As its name implies, this is a complete system to meet your full training need. All the materials are fully prepared in advance, so no prep time is required. All you need do is reproduce what you need and put it to use. Materials include:

–32 complete safety units, meeting every key OSHA standard, including machine safety. Each includes full background for trainers, a ready-to-use safety meeting, and follow-up handouts. Click for a Table of Contents.

–Quizzes, handouts, and copies of 27 different employee booklets, coordinated to the safety meetings. (Booklets can be bought in any quantity at a discount.)

–A complete training recordkeeping and tracking system that tells you which employees need what training, and then tracks your program to ensure they get it.

–Quarterly updates, included with the program. You receive at least 4 new safety units every 90 days, covering new OSHA standards and training needs.

If you share that common problem of never having enough time or the right materials for training, we’d suggest you examine the OSHA Training System program. We’ve arranged for you to do so for up to 30 days at no cost or risk. Just click here and we’ll be happy to make all the arrangements.