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What was the CAUSE of your Pinch Point Injury at work did the boss cover this safety topic!

When you think of  pinch point, would you automatically think of it as something that could cause a disabling injury to your hands, toes, or body?  A Pinch Point is produced when 2 objects come together and there is a possibility that a person could be caught or injured when coming in contact with that area. Pinch points commonly impact fingers / hands, but can impact any area of the body. The injury resulting from a pinch point could be as minor as a blister or as severe as amputation or death. Conveyors, gears, loaders, compactors and other moving equipment are examples of machinery with pinch points.

At work, pinch points are those situations where machines, hand tools, and conditions put our hands, feet, and sometimes our entire body in danger. An injury can come from something as small as a pair of pliers, or as large as an excavator. Most tools have, or can cause pinch points. It might surprise you to know that hand injuries alone account for one third of the millions of disabling on-the-job accidents occurring each year.

Better Control and Prevention than Medical and Loss time Training

Physical Barriers In service areas, physical barriers might be anything from the machine guard on your table saw to barricades or warning devices from a running engine. Physical barriers are there to protect you from injury, not prohibit your activity. Guards are important to protect you from direct contact with moving parts, flying chips, kickbacks, and splashing of metal or harmful liquids. Barricades are placed at construction sites to warn you of dangerous situations. It takes knowledge and insight to properly prepare equipment for maintenance or storage. Blocks are used to prevent equipment from rolling and heavy parts from falling. Never remove them unless you know why they are there, and the reason for being there is completed. Always check for fellow workers in harm’s way before removing blocks. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Respecting and using physical barriers and being aware of your surroundings are only half of what you need to do to be safe. Make sure you are always wearing your safety gear and inspect it before each use. Although the last line of defense against a pinch point injury, PPE (proper gloves, footwear) is a necessity to ensure others notice your position and your extremities are protected.

A pinch point is a place where it’s possible for a body part to be caught:

  1. Between moving machine parts
  2. Between moving and stationary machine parts 3. Between moving parts and materials being processed or manufactured.

Other pinch point situationsinclude: 1. Catching fingers, hands, toes, or feet under or between heavy crates or equipment or drums while moving them 2. Slamming fingers or hands in a door 3. Nipping fingers or hands with hand tools like pliers 4. Nipping fingers or hands with equipment that has sliding parts or hinges 5. Nipping fingers or hands while closing a container 6. Getting clothing or jewelry tangled in a pinch point

Machine and Tool Guards Prevent Pinch Point Injuries

Many tools also have guards to keep your body away from pinch points.

  1. Never remove or disable a machine guard or use a machine that has a missing or disabled guard.
  2. Never reach around, under, or through a guard.
  3. Report guards that are missing or not working properly

Very Common Causes of Injuries from Pinch Points

  • Not paying attention to the location of hands and feet
  • Walking or working in areas with mobile equipment and fixed structures
  • Loose clothing, hair or jewelry getting caught in rotating parts or equipment
  • Poor condition of equipment and guarding
  • Dropping or carelessly handling materials or suspended loads
  • Not using the proper work procedures or tools
  • Reaching into moving equipment and machinery

Safety Controls for Pinch Points

  • Machine guarding: Verify all guarding is in place and effective
  • Personal Protective Equipment: Heavy-duty leather gloves, metacarpal guards, forearm guards, etc. Note: Do not wear gloves around rotating machinery
  • Pre-work inspection: Identify potential pinch points before starting work
  • Stay in employee designated areas: Always make sure mobile equipment operators know your location
  • Lockout/Tagout: Always verify the equipment is de-energized before starting any maintenance work
  • Alertness: Drowsiness leads to inattentive work habits and shortcuts
  • Operating manuals and work procedures: Always review these before starting work; pinch points may also be identified in these documents

In order to prevent incidents involving pinch points the following must be instilled into our everyday’s job:

  • Use the right tool for the job
  • Identify possible pinch point hazards in your work area
  • Concentrate on objects that move or capable of moving. Ask yourself, “What will happen if this moves? Will I be in the path of that movement?”
  • Be aware of pinch points created by objects that move and come into direct or close contact with relatively fixed objects (e.g., equipment placed close to pipeline or concrete, container docks, or suspended loads near fixed or mobile equipment). Ask yourself, “If this load moves or shifts unexpectedly, will I be in the way?”
  • Be on guard whenever you put your hands, fingers, toes, or feet “between” anything.
  • Discuss and point out pinch point hazards as part of your risk assessment and toolbox meetings
  • Make sure your hands are placed where you can see them
  • Never operate equipment or machinery without the required machine guards. Guards are designed to prevent contact with pinch points and points of operation.
  • Never place yourself or any part of your body in a potential pinch point area unless protective measures are provided for such activity. When reaching in to operate a control or reaching for an object, consider where your body parts are located. If it is within a pinch point, identify an alternative position or make sure all movable parts are fixed in place.
  • Identify possible pinch point hazards in your work area

Some additional practice controls to help prevent pinch-point injuries include:

  • Allow only properly trained employees to operate and maintain equipment
  • Inspect machines and guards often
  • Never walk away from a machine that is turned on or coasting
  • Discuss and point out pinch point hazards as part of your risk assessment and toolbox meetings
  • Ensure workers use all necessary PPE
  • Keep floors clean and free of debris to help prevent trips and falls

 

Questions to Generate Discussion in your Safety Talks at work

  • What are the most common sources of pinch points in your work area?
  • What improvements can be made to machine guarding?
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