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The dangers of crush injuries in the workplace

A Hagerstown man was killed earlier this year in a scrapyard, when a vehicle slipped off a forklift and hit him. Around the same time, a 19-year-old Greencastle man was killed when a heavy piece of manufacturing equipment fell on him.

Both of these men died in a workplace accident. In 2015, there were 173 workplace fatalities in Pennsylvania.

The particular type of accident that caused the deaths of these two men is called a crushing incident. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “contact with objects and equipment” is one of the top four leading causes of workplace fatalities.

What is a crushing incident?

A crushing incident occurs when part of your body is squeezed between two heavy objects. This type of incident can cause severe injuries, amputation and death.

What are the different types of crushing incidents?

There are three main types of crushing incidents that happen in the workplace:

Contact with moving parts - These types of accidents are frequently seen in manufacturing industries. For instance punch presses, which are used to punch holes in various materials, can come into contact with the operator’s hand causing serious injuries.

Caught in or caught between - These accidents are common in industries where mobile equipment is used, such as loading docks. You might get hit by a moving forklift, or trapped between two moving vehicles.

Falling objects –As in the two cases above, falling equipment or materials cause numerous accidents every year. Other crush incidents might involve the collapse of a trench that is being dug, or failure of work equipment, such as scaffolding, that could then crush a worker.

How can you prevent being caught in a crushing incident?

If you work in an industry where crushing incidents are common, there are some steps you can take to minimize your risk of becoming a victim:

  • Be aware of your surroundings – Know where a crushing incident may happen, and keep an eye on moving pieces of equipment in your vicinity
  • Safety procedures training – Your employer should provide ongoing safety training for the safety and well-being of all employees
  • Wear form fitting clothes – Pieces of machinery can easily grab a small slip of clothing and pull you into the equipment, so don’t wear loose-fitting work clothes or uniforms
  • Tie your hair back – Again, having your hair – let alone your body – pulled into a piece of machinery is never a good thing
  • Don’t mess around – Staying focused and alert in the workplace is one of the best ways to prevent a crushing injury

What should I do if I am the victim of a crushing incident?

The first thing to do, of course, is to seek medical attention. You may also want to file a workers’ compensation claim to help cover any expenses resulting from the incident.

And if you believe that the incident was due to some form of negligence on the part of your employer, you may want to take legal action.

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