Combating Pinch Point Injuries in the Workplace

Posted by Clarion Safety Systems on 23rd Sep 2021

According to OSHA, after falls, pinch point injuries can be the most serious and debilitating of workplace injuries. Over one third of on-the-job accidents involve hand injuries, with over 80 percent of them being from a pinch-point incident.

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 be focusing on pinch point hazards, the second of a three part blog series on entanglement hazards and injuries.

Understanding a Pinch-Point Movement
This type of movement is where two or more parts of a machine move together, and one of them is moving in a circle. A common example of this a pulley and belt system like a conveyor. Pinch point incidents also commonly occur from gears, sliding doors, motors, rollers, and robotic machines, although can also come from small handheld tools and devices. These type of issues are most common for warehouse workers and those working in industrial settings.

Nonfatal injuries from pinch point incidents can range from relatively minor to catastrophic: mild bruises or abrasions, cuts, puncture wounds, fractures, amputation, crushing, and even death have all been known to occur. These types of injuries are most common in hands and feet, although can be full body if severe enough.

Safeguarding Best Practices For Manufacturers
Some ways manufacturers can reduce pinch point hazards from their machinery in the production stage are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Implement an effective machine safeguarding review and make necessary changes to prevent against user injury, death, or amputation.

Securing 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.

  • Proper Training: Workers should understand the purpose and function of all controls on the machine, know how to stop the equipment in an emergency, be trained on the safety procedures for special setups, know the circumstances under which the guard should be removed, and what to do if the guard is damaged or not functioning properly.
  • Regular Inspection: Inspections should ensure that the operator and the machine are equipped with the safety accessories suitable for the hazards of the job, the machine and safety equipment are in proper working condition, and the machine operator is properly trained. Inspections should be documented and records maintained for both safety and liability purposes.
  • Good Housekeeping: Keep floors and aisles in good repair and free from debris, dust, protruding nails, unevenness, or other tripping hazards. Make sure the floor is nonslip to prevent against accidents.
  • Guard Awareness: A worker shouldn’t operate a piece of equipment if the guard or any other safety device isn’t functioning properly. They should be able to demonstrate their ability to run the machine with all safety precautions and mechanisms in place.
  • Timely Reactions: Workers should know never to leave a machine that has been turned off but is still coasting. Many pinch-point injuries occur from distracted employees.
  • Visible Warnings: Make sure that the machinery your employees are using doesn’t have fading or nonexistent labels. Consider adding safety signs to an area to encourage and remind about PPE usage.

Maximizing Safety at Every Step
Pinch 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.