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Pinch Points and Body Position

Each year, workers suffer approximately 125,000 caught or crushed injuries that occur when body parts get caught between two objects or entangled with machinery. These hazards are referred to as “pinch points.” The physical forces applied to a body part caught in a pinch point can vary and cause injuries ranging from bruises and cuts to amputated body parts and even death.

Pinch point injuries can be devastating, resulting in amputations, crushed limbs, and even death. Workers in the pipeline construction, survey, and environmental industries must be especially vigilant due to the heavy machinery and equipment involved in these fields. This article expands on the key concepts of pinch point safety, providing more detailed guidelines and specific examples of hazards to prevent injuries in these industries.

Understanding Pinch Points

Pinch point injuries often occur when employees are not trained properly, don't recognize the danger of the equipment they are using or take shortcuts to complete the task quickly.  The JSA / JHA can identify these risks and help prevent injury.  Also, being in a hurry and lack of planning can contribute to the injury.  Often the incorrect tool is selected due to lack of planning (Hence the JSA / JHA) which can cause the pinch point.

Preventing Injuries from Pinch Points

To minimize the risk of injuries from pinch points, several safety practices should be followed, including situational awareness, physical barriers, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, avoiding shortcuts, respecting machinery, and maintaining proper body positioning will further reduce the risk of injury.

  • Awareness: Workers should be trained to recognize and avoid pinch point hazards in their work environment. This includes being mindful of hand and foot placement, staying alert around moving equipment and machinery, and understanding the risks associated with loose clothing, jewelry, and hair.
    • Examples of Hazards:
      • Resting or leaning on running heavy equipment (e.g., dozers, track hoes, or vehicles)
      • Sleeping under equipment, whether running or not
      • Positioning your body between the boom and outriggers of a track hoe or backhoe
      • Working too close to running heavy equipment
      • Failing to anticipate hand positioning when using hydraulic wrenches
      • Placing hands in the ends of pipe when joining or aligning them
      • Keeping hands and body too close to moving or rolling pipe

    • Physical Barriers: Utilizing machine guards, barricades, and warning devices can help prevent direct contact with pinch point hazards. Always respect these barriers and never remove them without proper authorization and awareness of potential risks.
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Wearing appropriate PPE, such as gloves and safety footwear, can help protect workers from pinch point injuries. Ensure that all PPE is in good condition and inspected regularly.
    • Avoiding Shortcuts: Taking shortcuts or bypassing procedures can lead to dangerous situations and increase the risk of pinch point injuries. Always follow proper work procedures and use the correct tools for the job.
    • Respecting Machinery: Never perform a task without proper training, and always be mindful of the potential hazards associated with machinery. Remember that even small tools, such as pliers, can cause pinch point injuries if not used correctly.

Avoiding Shortcuts

Taking shortcuts in the construction industry can lead to dangerous situations and increased risk of injuries. It is essential to follow proper work procedures and use the correct tools and safety equipment to maintain a safe work environment. Here are some examples of shortcuts that construction workers should avoid:

Skipping safety meetings and briefings

Construction sites are dynamic environments where safety conditions can change rapidly. Workers might be tempted to skip safety meetings or briefings to save time. However, these meetings provide crucial information about potential hazards and safety precautions. Always attend safety meetings and briefings to stay informed about potential risks and proper safety procedures.

Using inappropriate tools or equipment

Using the wrong tools or equipment for a task can lead to accidents and injuries. For example, using a ladder instead of a scaffold for working at heights or using a damaged power tool. Always use the appropriate tools and equipment for the job and ensure they are in good working condition.

Bypassing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

To save time or due to discomfort, construction workers may sometimes neglect to wear the required PPE, such as hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, or steel-toed boots. Not wearing the appropriate PPE can expose workers to various hazards, including falling objects, debris, and pinch points. Always wear the required PPE for your specific tasks and work environment.

Ignoring load limits and proper rigging techniques

When working with cranes, hoists, or other lifting equipment, it is essential to adhere to load limits and follow proper rigging techniques. Overloading lifting equipment or using improper rigging can lead to equipment failure, dropped loads, and potentially severe injuries. Always follow the manufacturer's load limits and use proper rigging techniques to ensure safe lifting operations.

Failing to implement proper trenching and excavation safety measures

Trenching and excavation work can pose significant risks if workers do not follow established safety measures. Shortcuts, such as neglecting to slope, shore, or bench trench walls, can lead to cave-ins and serious injuries or fatalities. Always follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for trenching and excavation safety, including proper protective systems and regular inspections.

By avoiding these and other shortcuts, construction workers can significantly reduce the risk of injuries on the job site. Following proper work procedures, using the correct tools and safety equipment, and respecting established safety guidelines are crucial to maintaining a safe work environment for all.

Body Positioning
Maintaining Awareness and Reducing Risks

In the construction, survey, and environmental industries, proper body positioning is essential for preventing pinch point injuries. Being conscious of your body's position in relation to potential hazards can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Here, we will elaborate on the importance of proper body positioning, including examples of distractions and potential crushing or pinch points.

Avoid Distractions: In today's fast-paced world, distractions are everywhere, and it is crucial to remain focused on the task at hand. Using a cell phone while working or wearing headphones can severely limit your situational awareness and lead to accidents. Be vigilant about avoiding these distractions and stay alert to your surroundings at all times.

Texting or browsing social media on your cell phone while near heavy machinery can cause you to inadvertently position yourself in a pinch point.
Wearing headphones while working may prevent you from hearing warnings, alarms, or verbal alerts from colleagues, placing you at risk of being caught in a hazardous situation.
Stay Alert to Warning Signs: Be aware of warning signs, alarms, and verbal alerts from colleagues. These warnings are intended to draw attention to potential hazards, and staying alert can help you maintain proper body positioning and avoid pinch point injuries.

Identify Potential Crushing or Pinch Points: Familiarize yourself with the equipment and machinery used in your industry to better understand where potential crushing or pinch points may occur. These points can change depending on the equipment's operation, so constant vigilance is necessary.

When working with cranes or hoists, be aware of the potential risk of being crushed between the equipment and other objects. Avoid standing beneath suspended loads or working in the swing radius of cranes.
In areas with mobile equipment, such as forklifts or excavators, be cautious about positioning yourself between the equipment and fixed structures, as this may result in crushing injuries.

While handling or maneuvering large or heavy objects, be mindful of pinch points that may occur between the object and nearby equipment or structures. Use proper lifting and moving techniques to minimize the risk of injury.

Establish a Safe Working Distance: Maintain a safe distance from moving equipment and machinery to prevent contact with pinch points. Be especially cautious when reaching over or under equipment, as this can inadvertently place your body in a dangerous position.

Work in Pairs or Teams: When possible, work with a partner or team to increase situational awareness and provide an additional set of eyes for potential hazards. This can help you maintain proper body positioning and reduce the risk of pinch point injuries.

By emphasizing proper body positioning and maintaining a heightened awareness of your surroundings, you can significantly reduce the risk of pinch point injuries in the pipeline construction, survey, and environmental industries. Staying focused, avoiding distractions, and working collaboratively can help create a safer work environment for everyone involved.

By implementing these safety practices and promoting awareness of pinch point hazards, we can significantly reduce the risk of injuries in the pipeline construction, survey, and environmental industries. Employers and workers must be diligent in identifying and reporting hazards, and ensuring that proper safety procedures are followed at all times. Remember, safety is everyone's responsibility and should not be learned by accident.

We are pleased to announce that we have partnered up with Boot Barn to offer all Applied Consultants inspectors a 15% discount on all purchases “work related” from the Boot Barn, Nation Wide. Be sure to tell them you work for Applied Consultants and use the key word: “Safety First” to receive the discount.