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Course 807: Focus Four - Caught-In or -Between Hazards

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

What are Caught-in or -between Hazards?

Introduction

According to OSHA, caught-in or -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. This includes individuals who get caught or crushed in operating equipment, between other mashing objects, between a moving and stationary object, or between two or more moving objects.

The key factor in making a determination of a Caught event and a Struck event is whether the impact of the object alone caused the injury. When the impact alone creates the injury, the event should be recorded as Struck. When the injury is created more as a result of crushing injuries between objects, the event should be recorded as Caught.

Events that should be classified as Caught-in or -between include:

  • cave-ins (trenching)
  • being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment (this includes strangulation as the result of clothing caught in running machinery and equipment)
  • being compressed or crushed between rolling, sliding, or shifting objects such as semi-trailers and a dock wall, or between a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering

Lets' look at some examples of caught-in or -between hazards that caused accidents.

Caught-in or-between hazards in construction cause accidents such as the following:

  • A worker was ripping a 6-inch piece of wood on an unguarded compound miter saw. His left thumb was caught in the saw and amputated.
  • An employee was performing diagnostic work on a water truck at a construction site. The worker crawled under the operating truck. The employee's work shirt collar and coveralls became caught on a projecting set screw on the rotating pump shaft. The set screw pulled him into the pump shaft. The employee died en-route to the hospital.
  • A worker climbed onto an I-beam to clean muck off the tail pulley of a conveyor belt attached to a separator. The conveyor system was energized and in operation. The employee reached between the feed and return of the belt in front of the tail pulley with his hand to brush the muck off the belt. He was caught by the moving belt, and his hand and arm were pulled into a pinch point in the tail pulley. The employee's arm was fractured.

More caught-in or-between hazards in construction accidents:

  • Two workers were in an unprotected trench reconnecting drainpipes at Fort Bragg on July 24, 2014, when, without warning, the walls collapsed around them. One of the workers was able to escape uninjured, but the second worker was not. There was no protection against a side wall collapse and no exit in a 62-foot long trench.
  • An employee and a co-worker were working in a 9-foot deep excavation installing water pipes when the south side of the excavation caved in on the employee and buried him. The employee was killed.
  • Two laborers were framing out footing for foundation walls in an excavation 100-foot long by 45-foot wide by 10-foot deep. The adjacent property along the north wall of the excavation consisted of seven garages, with a 10-foot high cinderblock wall. The cinderblock wall was undermined approximately 2 feet and was not supported. The wall collapsed, crushing the laborers. One was killed, and the other was taken to the hospital for back and shoulder injuries.
  • A worker was operating a road grader when the engine died, and the vehicle began to roll toward a small ravine. The employee jumped off the grader but was pulled under the grader as it overturned. He was killed when he was crushed underneath the tires.

More caught-in and pinned-between hazards in construction accidents:

  • An employee was working from an aerial lift, which was in the "up" position, under an I-beam. He accidentally came into contact with the "drive/steer" lever, which made the manlift move. The employee died when he was pinned between the I-beam and manlift control panel.
  • A worker was cleaning an asphalt paving spreader. Another worker was repairing a pavement roller. The roller was accidentally put into motion, and it rolled toward the spreader. The first employee was injured when he was pinned between the two machines.
  • An employee was placing dunnage underneath the sheet metal. A co-worker was operating a powered industrial forklift loading sheet metal onto a flatbed truck. As the co-worker was loading the sheet metal onto the flatbed truck, one of the bands holding the sheet metal together either broke or, the clamp was not properly secured. The back band failed, and the load of sheet metal slid forward onto the employee, pinning him under the sheet metal and against a dumpster. The employee was hospitalized and treated for a fractured leg and a dislocated knee.

1. Which event below should be classified as a "caught-in" accident?

a. A nail puncturing a worker's eye
b. A worker being struck by a vehicle
c. A worker being hit by a falling object
d. A worker trapped by a cave-in

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Statistics

In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the total number of 5,250 fatal occupational injuries. Of that total, 1,008 fatal occupational injuries were in construction, a 2‰ increase over 2017.

Of the 1,008 construction worker fatalities in 2018, 55 of them (5.5‰) died as a result of caught-in or-between hazards.

This lesson will help you identify these hazards at your worksite so that you can be protected.

Types of Caught-in or -between Hazards

Some of the working conditions which contribute to these types of accidents include:

  • machinery which has unguarded moving parts or is not locked out during maintenance;
  • unprotected excavations and trenches;
  • heavy equipment that tips over, collapsing walls during demolition; and
  • working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles, or equipment.

2. Working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles, or equipment would most likely result in _____.

a. slip, trip, or fall accidents
b. caught-in or -between accidents
c. struck-by or -with accidents
d. being crushed or buried

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Machinery with Unguarded Moving Parts

Major hazards:

Almost all sites use machinery that has moving or rotating parts or that requires maintenance or repair at some point during construction. If machinery is not properly guarded or de-energized during maintenance or repair, injuries from caught-in or –between hazards may result, ranging from amputations and fractures to death. When machines or power tools are not properly guarded, workers can get their clothing or parts of their body caught in the machines. If machines are not de-energized (locked-out) when they are being repaired, they may cycle or otherwise start up and catch a worker's body part or clothing and cause injury or death.

Workers can be trapped and crushed under heavy equipment that tips, especially if they are thrown from the equipment.

Practice Identifying Hazards

Try to identify the hazards in each picture below. Then click on each picture to see if you correctly identified the hazards.

Read about some real-world accidents

Description of Accident

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Horizontal Drilling Machine
By FRAC CC BY-SA 2.5

A three-person crew was installing an underground telephone cable in a residential area. They had just completed a bore hole under a driveway using a horizontal boring machine. The bore hole rod had been removed from the hole. While the rod was still rotating, the operator straddled it and stooped over to pick it up. His trouser leg became entangled in the rotating rod, and he was flipped over. He struck tools and materials, sustaining fatal injuries.

Inspection Results

Following its inspection, OSHA issued one citation for one alleged serious violation of its construction standards. Had the equipment been properly guarded, this fatality might have been prevented.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Employees must be instructed to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work (29CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).
  • Guards must be installed on moving parts of equipment with which employees may come into contact (29 CFR 1926.300(b)(2)).

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Road Grader.

Description of Accident

A laborer was steam cleaning a scraper. The bowl apron had been left in the raised position. The hydraulically controlled apron had not been blocked to prevent it from accidentally falling. The apron did fall unexpectedly, and the employee was caught between the apron and the cutting edge of the scraper bowl. The apron weighed approximately 2500 pounds.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Employees must be instructed to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work (29CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).
  • Guards must be installed on moving parts of equipment with which employees may come into contact (29 CFR 1926.300(b)(2)).

Description of Accident

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Front-end loader.

An employee was driving a front-end loader up a dirt ramp onto a lowboy trailer. The tractor tread began to slide off the trailer. As the tractor began to tip, the operator, who was not wearing a seat belt, jumped from the cab. As he hit the ground, the tractor's rollover protective structure fell on top of him, crushing him.

Inspection Results

Following its inspection, OSHA cited the employer for two serious violations and one other than serious violation. Had the front-end loader been equipped with seat belts and had the employee worn them, he might not have been killed.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Provide seat belts in material handling equipment which has rollover protective structures (29 CFR 1926.602(a)(2)(I)).
  • Instruct employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work (29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).
  • Permit only employees qualified by training or experience to operate equipment and machinery (29 CFR 1926.20(b)(4)).

3. If machines are not properly de-energized (locked-out) while they are being repaired, they _____.

a. will cause an overload condition
b. may cycle or otherwise start up
c. will unexpectedly stop operating
d. can prevent normal operations

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Buried-in or -by

Major hazards:

The major hazard related to buried-in or -by is cave-ins of unprotected trenches and excavations. Cave-ins crush or suffocate workers.

Workers may also be injured or killed by buried-in or -by accidents in the following situations:

  • working in silos filled with grain;
  • working under suspended loads; and
  • working under construction or demolition operations

Workers who are working underneath large scaffolds may also be buried if the scaffolds collapse. Workers may be buried and crushed by walls that collapse during demolition.

Practice Identifying Hazards

Try to identify the hazards in each picture below. Then click on each picture to see if you correctly identified the hazards.

Read about some real-world accidents

Description of Accident

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Worker must not be in this trench without protection from cave-in hazards.

An employee was installing a small diameter pipe in a trench 3 feet wide, 12-15 feet deep and 90 feet long. The trench was not shored or sloped nor was there a box or shield to protect the employee. Further, there was evidence of a previous cave-in. The employee apparently reentered the trench, and a second cave-in occurred, burying him. He was found face down at the bottom of the trench.

Inspection Results

OSHA issued a citation for three serious violations of its construction standards. If the required support had been provided for the trench, it might not have collapsed.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Employers must shore, slope, or otherwise support the sides of trenches to prevent their collapse (29 CFR 1926.652(a)(1)).
  • Employers must protect employees with adequate personal protective equipment (29 CFR 1926.95(a)).
  • Employers must provide an adequate means of exit from trenches (29 CFR 1926.651(c)(2)).
  • Employees must be instructed to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work (29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).

Fall from tilt-up concrete wall
Worker must not be in this trench when heavy equipment is being used.

Description of Accident

An employee was working in a trench 4 feet wide and 7 feet deep. About 30 feet away a backhoe was straddling the trench when the backhoe operator noticed a large chunk of dirt falling from the side wall behind the worker in the trench; he called out a warning. Before the worker could climb out, 6 to 8 feet of the trench wall had collapsed on him and covered his body up to his neck. He suffocated before the backhoe operator could dig him out. There were no exit ladders. No sloping, shoring or other protective system had been used in the trench.

Inspection Results

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued citations alleging three serious violations. OSHA's construction standards include several requirements that, if they had been followed here, might have prevented this fatality.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to the work environment [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)].
  • Provide protection from cave-ins by an adequate protective system [29 CFR 1926.652(a)(1)].
  • Provide a means of egress within 25 feet of employees in a trench 4 feet or more deep, such as a ladder or stairway [29 CFR 1926.651(c)(2)].

4. Each of the following accidents could result in a "buried-in or -by" accident EXCEPT working _____.

a. on a suspended scaffold
b. in a trench or excavation
c. in underground utilities
d. in silos filled with grain

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Pinned Between

Major hazards:

You can be pinned between equipment and a solid object, such as a wall or another piece of equipment; between materials being stacked or stored and a solid object, such as a wall or another piece of equipment; or between shoring and construction materials in a trench. These types of hazards can result in multiple broken bones, asphyxiation, or death.

Practice Identifying Hazards

Try to identify the hazards in each picture below. Then click on each picture to see if you correctly identified the hazards.

Read about some real-world accidents

Backhoe near a wall
Never get between a rotating superstructure and an immovable object.

Description of Accident

The contractor was operating a backhoe when an employee attempted to walk between the swinging superstructure of the backhoe and a concrete wall. As the employee approached the backhoe from the operator's blind side, the superstructure hit the victim crushing him against the wall.

Inspection Results

OSHA issued two citations to the employer. One was based on failure to train employees in safe work practices regarding the dangers of construction machinery. The other citation was for failure to erect barricades to prevent entry into a swinging superstructure's radius.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Instruct each employee on the danger of passing between swinging superstructures of large construction equipment and solid objects at the demolition site [29 CRF 1926.21(b)(2)].
  • Provide each employee employment and place of employment which are free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees [OSH Act Sec. 5(a)(1)].

Backhoe near a wall
Note the increased protection near the heavy equipment and horizontal bracing.

Description of Accident

Four employees were boring a hole and pushing a 20-inch pipe casing under a road. The employees were in an excavation approximately 9 feet wide, 32 feet long and 7 feet deep. Steel plates 8' × 15' × 3/4", being used as shoring, were placed vertically against the north and south walls of the excavation at approximately a 30-degree angle. There were no horizontal braces between the steel plates. The steel plate on the south wall tipped over, pinning an employee (who was killed) between the steel plate and the pipe casing. At the time the plate tipped over, a backhoe was being operated adjacent to the excavation.

Inspection Results

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued a citation for two alleged serious violations of its construction standards. OSHA's construction safety standards include several requirements that, if they had been followed here, might have prevented this fatality.

What would you recommend?

Recommendations

  • Provide an adequately constructed and braced shoring system for employees working in an excavation that may expose employees to the danger of moving ground (29 CFR 1926.651(a)(1)).
  • If heavy equipment is operated near an excavation, stronger shoring must be used to resist the extra pressure due to superimposed loads (29 CFR 1926.652(c)(1)).

5. What kind of accident is most likely if you work too close to a rotating crane superstructure and a wall?

a. A crush or buried-by accident
b. A contact-with accident
c. An amputation accident
d. A pinned-between accident

Check your Work

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Exercise