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Traumatic Incident and the Dangers of Caught-in Hazards


OSHA has identified the 4 leading causes of fatalities in construction and general industry work environments and Caught-in Hazards are one of the Focus Four.

Caught-in or Caught-between hazards are defined as Injuries resulting from a person being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched, or compressed between two or more objects, or between parts of an object.

OSH Act of 1970 General Duty Clause Section 5(a)(1) Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm… (b) Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

In this incident, A 28-year-old laborer was crushed and killed by a horizontal drum industrial washing machine. The machine was accidentally turned on by another worker while he was reaching into the machine to retrieve clothing. The cause of death according to the death certificate was traumatic asphyxia and blunt trauma of torso.

Photos taken after the incident. You can see just how large the industrial washing machine was that led to this tragic death.
Photos taken after the incident. You can see just how large the industrial washing machine was that led to this tragic death.

To read the full incident report, visit this link: California FACE Report #11CA007

Important lessons from this tragic incident that should serve as safety reminders to all workers in any industrial environment:

  • Never attempt to operate equipment you have not been trained and authorized to use and never use equipment or machinery unless you have been properly trained on all safety features.
  • Never crawl or enter areas that could contain rotating or moving parts unless the equipment has been safely locked and tagged.
  • Never disconnect safety switches or devices.
  • Always inspect all machinery and equipment prior to operation. Equipment operators must ensure that warning alarms and horns are working properly every day.
  • Training in proper lockout and tagout procedures is needed before performing repair, service or maintenance activities on machines or equipment.

Remember that caught-in hazards don't just exist where a line worker might get their glove caught in a gear or where crews on jobsites need to remember to stay out of the way of the swing areas of excavators or cranes.

Caught-in hazards exist at every job site and all team members need to be trained to recognize potential caught-in hazards to ensure they will avoid placing themselves in a situation where they are putting themselves at risk because they haven't not been properly trained, or the equipment is or cannot be properly locked and tagged before servicing.

Caught-in Warning Signs

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