The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Control Pinch-point Risk

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pinch-point incidents are common across workshops, in the field, and in office environments. 

So workers should always take care, even if an environment seems safe and hazard-free.

Typical examples of pinch-point incidents include situations where people trap their fingers in door-jams, in desk draws, in car doors, or inside equipment.

Pinch-points are produced when either two moving parts come together (e.g., when rotating gear cogs turn) or when a single moving part comes in close proximity to something solid (e.g., when a moving door slams against a door frame).

In either case, it is the kinetic energy involved with the movement potential of the object in motion that causes harm when a person gets a body part in the way!  Ouch.

Pinch-points most usually impact onto fingers or hands, but any part of the body can be impacted.

This can be particularly dangerous wherever the space between the moving parts is just sufficient to allow a larger body part to be present when the moving parts come together.

The injury resulting from contact with kinetic energy in a pinch-point can be as minor as a small cut to as severe as having your head pulled off! 

So take care around all pinch points.

The common causes of pinch-point incidents include:

●  Putting a body part in the "line of fire" of the energy source;

●  Not paying attention to hand or finger placement;

●  Wearing loose clothing, long hair or jewelry which can be caught in rotating equipment;

●  Failure to use a machine's guard mechanism;

●  Poor hand placement when lifting or moving materials during manual handling;

●  Improper use of a tool; and

●  Failing to de-energize and isolate a machine before performing some kind of inspection or maintenance task.

Because of the risk associated with pinch-points, make sure you use the following controls to stay safe:

●  Always use the Think 6, Look 6 hazard management process to identify and control pinch points in every task;

●  Use handles when opening drawers;

●  Keep fingers out of "line of fire";

●  Verify that guards are in place and used on equipment that requires guarding;

●  For some jobs, ensure you're wearing gloves (of the correct type);

●  Identify pinch-point risks and the correct controls for these on your JSA;

●  Apply lock-out, tag-out procedure for energy isolation before working on the internals of any machine; and

●  Never remove equipment safety devices.

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