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Risk Management Bulletin


By April 1, 2008No Comments

Having your body caught between the moving parts of a machine is both terrifying and dangerous. Here are ideas OSHA and others have provided to prevent these “pinchpoint accidents.”

In 2006, nearly 7,900 workers lost a limb in pinchpoint incidents and more 59,000 pinchpoint injuries were reported About 44% of these accidents occurred in manufacturing, with workers’ bodies mangled by spinning, whirring, bending, or shearing machinery The rest were spread over agriculture, construction, wholesale, retail, and service businesses.

To help you protect your employees from such accidents, bear in mind that these mishaps don’t always involve machinery. “Many workers tend to think of pinchpoint hazard in terms of unguarded equipment,” says safety expert Dave Duncan, “but that’s only part of the picture.” In one case, after a driver stepped from her vehicle to open a gate the driverless vehicle slid on an icy surface, crushing her. In another example reported by Professional Roofing, a roofer fell into the gap between scaffolding and the wall of a building. These, too, were pinchpoint tragedies.

To avoid machinery pinchpoints mishaps OSHA recommend that supervisors pay special attention to these three areas:

  1. Point of operation: those parts of a machine at which work is performed. A slot into which a worker inserts or removes product would be such a point of operation, as would the table on which a saw or grinder descends to do its work.
  2. Power transmission apparatus. Though removed from the point at which work is done, pulleys, gears, belts, chains, or other devices that move power into the machine can also snag or tangle the employees who run them, and even those just passing by.
  3. Other moving parts. Even if they don’t actually do work or move power, such devices as cooling fans or even revolving doors can also cause pinchpoint/caught-between injuries.

There’s no specific OSHA standard relating to pinchpoint hazards. Instead, the agency relies on protections for workers afforded by its standards for Machinery/Machine Guarding, Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Hand and Power Tools, Conveyors, and Concrete and Masonry Construction, as well as its all-purpose General Duty Clause.

For more information on curbing pinchpoint accidents in your workplace, feel free to give us a call.