Caught-in or caught-between accidents are one of the four most perilous hazards on construction sites. What puts these types of accidents at the top of the list is the fact that they often involve heavy machinery and the injuries are very rarely minor. Caught-in or caught-between accidents usually result in very serious injuries with a high risk of fatalities. Under these circumstances, taking precautionary measures and preventative steps are essential and could literally be the difference between life and death.
What Are Caught In/Between Accidents?
Caught-in or caught-between accidents are accidents that occur when a part of a worker’s body such as an arm is caught, compressed, pinched, squeezed or crushed between two objects or more.
These accidents may occur in different ways in different industries. On construction sites, these accidents may occur due to collapsing materials, getting caught between two vehicles or equipment parts, or between a moving object and a fixed object, or body parts getting pulled into a machine with rotary parts or equipment rollovers.
The high risk of caught-in or caught-between accidents on construction sites is due to the presence of compactors, cement mixers, conveyors, loaders, and other heavy-duty equipment with pinch points, all within close proximity of each other. An accident involving any of these powerful pieces of equipment can easily mangle or even sever a person’s body part completely. So what can you do to help prevent these types of accidents and injuries from happening in the workplace?
There are things you can do if you are the person operating a vehicle or heavy equipment, and there are things you can do if you are just working on-site but not operating any vehicles or heavy equipment.
Tips For Preventing Caught In/Between Accidents When Operating Heavy Plant
Are you the one operating the cement mixer, dump truck, compactor, loader, conveyer or any other heavy plant on site? If you are, observing these few guidelines will go a long way in minimising the risk of accidents:
- Recognise the potential hazards. You cannot take proper precautionary measures if you do not know what the hazards are. Start by familiarising yourself with any equipment and take time to find out where the crush, pinch or squeeze points are situated.
- Make sure that the parking brakes are on when the vehicle or equipment is parked, especially if you need to leave it unattended, even for a minute. This is particularly important if the vehicle or equipment is parked on an incline.
- Never load a vehicle more than its rated load capacity. If you are loading a forklift or crane, make sure the load limit does not exceed the lift capacity of the equipment.
- Secure your vehicle well if you have to drive your vehicle over a road or ramp that has a steep incline to avoid a tip-over.
- Make sure you have a clear rear view if you need to drive a vehicle in reverse.
- Always switch off the equipment from any electrical source before carrying out any inspection or repair work.
- Need to work or inspect under heavy equipment or vehicle? Never trust a single jack to lift and hold a vehicle safely. Using a secondary device can provide much-needed additional support and safety.
- Stay focused and alert when working with, or around equipment that uses rotating parts such as gears, pulleys, belts, rotating shafts or sprockets.
- Make it a point to check that all safety guards are in position and properly adjusted and secured before you use any heavy equipment.
Protecting Yourself From Caught In/Between Accidents When You’re Not Operating Heavy Plant
Safety on a construction site is not just the responsibility of the operators of heavy equipment and vehicles. Every individual on the site, whether employee or visitor, is equally responsible for keeping themselves safe. These are some things you can do to prevent getting injured in a caught-in or caught-between accident.
If you are not operating a particular vehicle or equipment, stay as far away as possible from the area where possible. If you work too close to any heavy equipment in operation it of course increases the risk of getting pinned between the equipment and the wall or a stationary object. If you have to approach the area for any reason, do so only after informing the operator so you both know what you’re going to do. Never just presume that the operator has seen you and will move away from you. The operator may be focusing on another area or you may be out of the operator’s line of vision. If you see a heavy vehicle approaching you, move as far away as possible.
If materials are being moved directly overhead, it’s best to move away until the moving is all done. You never want to take a chance and stay directly under such an operation. One small mistake is all it takes for a major disaster.
What You Wear Makes A Huge Difference
Your choice of clothes plays a bigger role than you may imagine when it comes to preventing caught-in or caught-between accidents on construction sites. Think about it for a minute – wearing long loose clothes may be comfortable but it increases the odds of your clothing getting caught in a moving machine part, reeling you in. When working on a construction site or any workplace where heavy equipment and vehicles are routinely used, always wear close-fitting clothes, button long sleeves at the cuff, and tuck your shirt into your trousers.
It’s best to avoid any type of jewellery, especially long chains, dangling earrings, or any kind of bangle or bracelet. If you have to wear a medical bracelet, have it secured to your body with an adhesive band to prevent it from dangling and getting caught in something.
Long hair can also increase the risk of a caught-in/between accident if it is left untied. While at work, secure your long hair using a hairnet or a skull cap or tie it up in a bun.
These are just the most basic tips for preventing caught-in or caught-between accidents. Before you get to work on a construction site, you must take the time to familiarise yourself with all safety rules and regulations that are relevant to your workplace.
Employers are required by law to provide you with the necessary training and the appropriate personal protection gear to protect you from even the most common construction injuries. Insisting that these are provided to you before you start work is key to protecting yourself from caught-in/between injuries on a construction site.