Pinchpoints and Machine Safety … Not Just on April 6th

You may be one of the many celebrating National Tartan Day on the 6th of April so thought this would be a good time to remind you that, if you feel you need to don a full swinging kilt or carry around a blanket of the tartan of your choosing, just remember to be safe around moving equipment and machinery.

So now you may think – that’s ok! I’m not Scottish – no need to worry!

Sadly – you’d be wrong – in fact, each year hundreds of thousands of workers are caught in-between some sort of moving equipment or machinery causing harm. This can be a near-miss to an amputation or even death.

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

In fact, these incidents are so prevalent, that they seem to make their way onto the OHSA Fatal Four list year after year.

But what can you do to keep your workers from becoming another statistic? Other than banning the celebration of National Tartan Day by wearing unsafe clothing in the workplace?

How to Avoid Pinch Point Incidents

  • Follow the dress code – Wearing the right kind of clothing when working in areas where pinch injuries can occur is critically important. Pant legs and shirt sleeves shouldn’t be too long or too loose. Shirts should be tucked into the pants to reduce the risk of them getting caught in moving machinery.
  • Leave the jewelry home – All jewelry should be removed, especially dangling earrings, necklaces, and rings.
  • Tuck away long hair – Long hair should be tied back, and braids and ponytails should be kept at the back of the head and secured. Hair falling forward or down toward the machinery could get caught in its pinch points.
  • Wear your safety gear – The right personal protective gear for the job should be kept on at all times. Make sure safety gloves fit properly to avoid getting them caught (consult this sizing chart to make sure you get the right size).
  • Conduct a pre-inspection – Inspect machinery for any potential hazards before anyone operates it. Make a safety plan and follow through with it during the entire time the machine is in operation.
  • Stay alert and focused – Anyone operating equipment should stay totally focused on the job at hand and keep their eyes focused on the moving parts. Minimize distractions in the work environment as much as possible.
  • Use machine guards – Make sure that the right guard has been installed on the equipment and make sure that it is fitted properly. If you notice missing or damaged safety guards during your pre-inspection, don’t put the machinery into operation.
  • Know how to deal with a jam – Make sure you learn how to safely deal with the machine if it becomes jammed. Before you clean or fix jammed equipment, make sure it has been turned off and come to a complete stop. Familiarize yourself with the lockout/Tagout procedures.
  • Look beyond the machinery – Pinch points aren’t just found in industrial equipment. Machinery pinch points can cause serious injuries, but so can a stack of heavy items. Even getting your hand or foot jammed in the door might cause enough damage to require medical attention.

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