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Tragic Caught-in Incident with a Valuable Safety Lesson


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.

In this incident, A 52-year-old millwright (the victim) was fatally injured when he was pinned between the feed rolls of a debarker as he was welding additional metal to the teeth on the feed rolls. The victim had locked out two electrical disconnects in the debarking room before beginning his work, but he had not locked out all electrical disconnects and had not shut off and locked out the air line to the machine. As the victim welded, he leaned forward and placed his head between the upper and lower feed rolls to reach areas that required more metal. The air pressure on the rolls automatically cycled and the feed rolls closed over the victim’s head.

Conveyor Moving Logs into the South Debarker
Debarker Room Where Locks Were Place on 2 Electrical Circuits
Feed Rolls of the South Debarker Where Victim has been welding metal onto the debarker teeth
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.

To read the full incident report and see more photos, visit this link: NIOSH In-house FACE Report 2006-02

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

  • Training in proper lockout and tagout procedures is needed before performing repair, service or maintenance activities on machines or equipment.
  • All potential hazardous energy must be identified before working on machines or equipment.
  • Manufacturers requirements and recommendations should always be followed when working with machinery, including the removal, maintenance, repair and replacement of machine parts.
  • Ensure that employees are adequately trained and supervised when assigned to perform new, infrequent, or dangerous tasks.

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.jpg

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