The caught-in/between injury is one of construction's "fatal four" according to OSHA. The other three are falls, struck by object, and electrocutions. OSHA defines caught-in/between injuries as those caused by a worker being caught between two objects and being crushed, squeezed, pinched, or compressed. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the consequences can be "minimal" such as the loss of a finger, or cause instant death when the accident involves most of the victim's body.
There are three ways this type of injury occurs in the Bakken field and in other areas with construction work:
- Within the moving parts of operating equipment. Machinery or equipment lacking safety guards exposes the worker to belts, chains, gears, and other moving parts and mechanisms. Loose clothing or long hair can get caught and draw the victim into the machine. Sometimes protective guards aren't possible or vibration shakes them loose over time and isn't replaced because of poor maintenance practices.
- Between a moving and a stationary object. This can happen in many ways. For instance, the swiveling superstructure of a crane might pinch someone against a nearby wall, or heavy equipment might back up and pin someone against a tree. The operator of a forklift could place a large heavy pallet against a wall, not realizing that a worker was standing between the pallet and wall. This category includes the fall of a large object or collapse of material onto a worker.
- Between two moving objects. A worker in an area that's busy with several large vehicles or moving construction equipment might get caught between two of them crossing close together.
The people working in these dangerous situations should be acutely aware of the hazards and maintain a situational awareness of their environment at all times. Fatigue or distraction can cause an accident, however. Often, caught-in/between injuries occur to people who don't belong in the area but are passing through and not paying attention. Zoning off the area with barricades will prevent this problem.
To summarize, zoning off hazardous areas, proper machine maintenance, as well as proper training in machine operation and safety protocols will minimize caught-in/between injuries.
If a construction accident injured you while working at the Bakken oil field, contact us at Odegaard Braukmann Law.