How to Prevent Crush Point Injuries

By Clarion Safety Systems | 17th Sep 2021

Entanglement injuries are part of a larger category of “contact with objects or equipment” injuries that have an injury rate in the U.S. of 200,000 lost work hours and 700 fatalities per year. Due to the frequency of entanglement injuries and their potential severity, regulations intended to prevent entanglements have been developed in the United States and are enforced by OSHA.

The Three Types of Entanglement Injuries
According to the National Safety Council, entanglement injuries are the eighth most common preventable workplace safety incident. The severity of an entanglement incident can range from a near miss to a fatal injury.

There are three main forms of machine movement that are associated with entanglement injuries. These are classified as pinch point, crush point, and wrap point movements. In this post, we’ll focus on crush-point hazards, the first of a three part blog series on entanglement hazards and injuries.

Understanding a Crush-Point Movement
This type of movement is where two parts of a machine move toward each other or when a moving object approaches a stationary object. A common example of this is a hydraulic cylinder. Crush point incidents also commonly occur when a piece of equipment is not properly secured, which allows it to roll unintentionally before, during, or after use. These type of issues are most common in the agriculture and construction industries, with the inclusion of factories and plants.

Nonfatal injuries from crush point incidents include crushed tissues, broken bones, and cuts. Generally, the damage relates to limbs and extremities, although fatal injury can occur if a large enough part of the body or head is crushed.

Safeguarding Best Practices For Manufacturers
Methods for manufacturers to apply in the design and production stage of their machinery to reduce crush-point hazards include:

  • Conduct a risk assessment, document it, and have a process in place for regular reevaluation. A thorough risk assessment will identify hazards, estimate the severity of injury presented by each hazard, and estimate the probability of the injury’s occurrence. For risks considered “unacceptable” due to applicable laws, regulations, standards, or public opinion, control measures can be applied (based on the hierarchy of controls) to reduce risk.
  • Outfit the equipment with standards appropriate warning labels, placing them in visible areas to ensure effectiveness.
  • Identify both machines and general spaces in the workplace at risk for crush-point hazards from your product.
  • Implement an effective machine safeguarding review and make necessary changes to prevent against user injury, death, or amputation.

How to Secure Your Workplace
A key step to preventing crushing injuries is routinely locking and securing objects. Machinery, substances, or objects that may shift, cycle, or move unexpectedly must be secured.

Important areas to keep in mind for workplace equipment itself include:

  • Implementing an effective lockout/tagout program will help to ensure that workers can identify all sources of potentially hazardous energy and control them effectively.
  • Raised equipment should be well supported so it won’t fall on workers or other machinery.
  • Equipment should not be parked or stored in a raised position. Make sure excavator buckets, forklift forks, and other elevating equipment are lowered when not in use.
  • Stored materials must be stacked and secured in a way that prevents collapse.

It’s crucial to increase awareness of pinning hazards that result in crushing injuries. Workers must be aware of mobile equipment in their work area, and ensure that they’re never between moving equipment, such as forklifts, and immovable structures, other vehicles, or stacked materials.

Key areas for increasing worker awareness of crush points are as follows:

  • Restrict traffic in the work area so only essential personnel are present. To achieve this, you can utilize procedural training, physical barriers, and signage.
  • Separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic as much as possible in both large and small facilities.
  • Train workers to identify areas where crushing hazards exist, so they can stay out of the zone of danger. This may require revisiting your employee manuals and initial training procedures.

Maximizing Safety at Every Step
Crush point injuries can affect employees for the rest of their lives – and have serious liability impacts for businesses. The goal for us all is to have zero injuries. Working together, that is entirely feasible. At Clarion Safety, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us to see which labels, signs and tags are right for your project.

Through Clarion Safety Assessment, we can also assist with machinery risk assessments, machinery manual reviews, and employee training systems for your products or workplaces.