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OSHA Fatal Four #4: Caught In Between

“Caught in-between” hazards kill workers in a variety of ways. These include: cave-ins and other hazards of excavation work; body parts pulled into unguarded machinery; standing within the swing radius of cranes and other construction equipment; caught between equipment & fixed objects.


Excavation hazards are common on construction sites. These workers are more than twice as likely to be killed as workers in any other type of construction work. Excavations and trenches are unstable by nature, and many types of serious hazards exist when doing this type of work.


  • Cave-ins can SUFFOCATE OR CRUSH workers.
  • Hazardous atmospheres can KILL OR INJURE workers:
    • Oxygen deficiency can SUFFOCATE a worker.
    • Flammable gases or vapors can cause FIRES and EXPLOSIONS.
    • Toxic gases or vapors can kill or seriously injure workers.
  • Workers can DROWN in water, sewage or chemicals if these haven’t been controlled – by diverting them elsewhere or locking them out – to prevent worker exposure.

Workers can face BURNS, ELECTROCUTION OR EXPLOSIONS while working around various underground utilities, such as steam, hot water, gas, electricity.

CAVE-INS can happen:

  1. when the soil is unstable;
  2. when there is a lot of vibration from trains, trucks, traffi c or machinery;
  3. when there is too much weight, too close to sides of the excavation, from excavated material (“spoils”), tools, equipment, materials or vehicles at the site;
  4. when there is water in the excavation; or
  5. when there are changes in the weather, like heavy rain, freezing, melting, etc.

Don’t get caught! Take the proper precautions to ensure that you are working safely. Wear all required personal protective equipment. A mistake in excavation/trenching procedures may not give you a second chance!

Protect Yourself From “Being Caught-In…” IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE AND LIMBS!

In addition to cave-ins, there are other ways that workers can get “caught in” or “caught between” that can lead to death or serious injury.

  1. HAZARD: Unguarded machinery. Workers can get parts of their body, or their clothes, caught in machines. PROTECT YOURSELF! Machines must always be properly guarded. Workers should follow lock-out/tag-out procedures to prevent being injured when a machine is being repaired. Employers must train workers how to recognize and avoid these unsafe conditions.
  2. HAZARD: Being caught between a vehicle and an object. Workers can be hit by a swinging structure, like a crane, or be caught between other moving vehicles, like forklifts, and solid objects. PROTECT YOURSELF! Workers need to be trained on the dangers of passing between swinging structures of equipment (like a crane) and other solid objects. Barricades should be used to keep workers out of the area within the swing radius of the equipment. Employers must train workers how to recognize and avoid these unsafe conditions.
  3. HAZARD: Being caught between objects. PROTECT YOURSELF! Employers must train workers how to recognize these hazards. Wear a seatbelt, if required, to avoid being thrown from a vehicle. Loads carried by powered industrial trucks must be stable and secure.
  4. HAZARD: Being caught in a piece of equipment or machinery. PROTECT YOURSELF! Employees must be instructed how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions like these. Follow proper lockout/tagout procedures whenever you repair or maintain equipment and machinery. Turn off any and all vehicles whenever you do any repair or maintenance work. Block wheels of vehicles to stop movement, and make sure you are properly trained to work safely on this equipment. Lower or block the blades of bulldozers, scrapers and similar equipment when making repairs or when they are not in use.
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