Report: “Caught-in/between” Fatalities on the Rise, Injuries Declining

The number of “caught-in/between” (CIB) fatalities of construction workers, which includes glaziers, has increased 33.3 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to a recent report by CPWR. The increase surpassed the 26.1-percent growth rate of overall fatalities during that time, accounting for approximately 8 percent of construction fatalities.

“When stratified into more detailed categories, more than two in three (68.6 percent) of CIB fatalities that occurred from 2011 to 2015 were due to being caught or crushed in collapsing materials. The number of such deaths increased 50 percent, from 32 in 2011 to 48 in 2015, while deaths due to being caught or compressed by equipment or objects stayed relatively stable during the same period,” reads the report.

Among the 189 construction workers who died from being caught or crushed in collapsing materials from 2011 to 2015, 99 were killed by collapsing structures or equipment such as walls or cranes. The leading cause of caught/compressed by equipment or objects deaths was due to running equipment or machinery (45.3 percent or 39 deaths), followed by being compressed or pinched by shifting objects or equipment, according to the report.

Of those fatalities caused by being caught or crushed in confined spaces, 59 percent were laborers and 7 percent were foreman.

In the nonresidential building sector, there were 19 fatal CIB injuries from 2011 to 2015. Of those deaths, five were caused by being caught/compressed by an object or equipment and 14 were caused by being caught/crushed in collapsing materials.

According to the report, ironworkers had the highest rate of fatalities due to CIB injuries. From 2011 to 2015, there were 5 ironworker deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs), for a total of 11. Laborers had a rate 1.8 CIB fatalities per 100,000 FTEs for a total of 122 and foreman had a rate of 1.1 fatalities per 100,000 FTEs for a total of 33.

According to Steve Rank, executive director of safety and health for the Iron Workers, the organization saw two to three incidents in the last year with at least one fatality.

“We’re doing everything we can to prevent incident trends,” he says. “We have a steel erection course that is all about staging iron. We emphasize proper position in the majority of our programs. You don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the iron with no place to go.”

Rank says that the biggest caught-between hazard for ironworkers is truck boom deflection.

The CPWR report also studies trends among age groups.

“By age, more than a quarter of construction workers who died from CIB injuries were 45 to 54 years old, the largest proportion among all age groups. While workers aged 65 years and older only accounted for 5 percent of such deaths, they had the highest rate of such fatalities of any age bracket, at nearly one death per 100,000 FTEs, more than twice the rate for those aged 25-34. In addition, the youngest age group had an elevated risk of caught-in/between fatalities,” reads the report.

Nonfatal Caught-in/between Injuries

While CIB fatalities rose from 2011 to 2015, caught-in/between injuries resulting in days away from work (DAFW) in construction declined. In 2015, 2,690 CIB injuries occurred in construction, a 30-percent decrease from 2011. The injury rate fell 41 percent from 7.6 to 4.5 injuries per 10,000 FTEs during the same period.

Construction had the fourth highest number of nonfatal CIB injuries in 2015, and the sixth highest rate, with 4.3 nonfatal injuries per 10,000 FTEs.

The nonresidential building sector had the lowest rate of nonfatal CIB injuries among construction subgroups in 2015 with 1.5 injuries per 10,000 FTEs for a total of 110 injuries.

Ironworkers had one of the highest rates or injuries in 2015, with 13.7 injuries per 10,000 FTEs for a total of 60. Construction laborers had a rate of 6.1 per 10,000 FTEs with 740 CIB injuries and foreman had the lowest rate among construction subgroups with 2.7 injuries per 10,000 FTEs (130 injuries in 2015).

Older construction workers had a lower risk of being injured in a caught/compressed by object or equipment incident, whereas workers under 20 years old had the highest risk of nonfatal injuries in such incidents, with 5.3 injuries per 10,000 FTEs in 2015.

The report offers several solutions to prevent CIB injuries and fatalities for each type of identified hazard.

Some of the solutions to prevent workers from being pinned between equipment, walls or other immovable objects is to never stand between moving materials and immovable structures, never work in the wing radius of rotating equipment and to wear high-visibility apparel appropriate for the job.

To prevent workers from being crushed by collapsing structures or tip overs, the reports suggests never exceeding the load capacity of equipment, inspecting and illuminating all stairways and passageways and to use caution when handling materials.

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