OSHA has identified four safety hazards that account for the greatest percentage of all construction worker fatalities each year. OSHA considers caught-in/between hazards as one of the Focus Four Hazards.

Caught-in/between occurs when a person becomes caught, squeezed, crushed, pinched or compressed between two or more objects or parts of an object. Unguarded moving machinery, unprotected excavations and trenches, working between moving materials and immovable structures, vehicles or equipment contribute to caught-in/between hazards. Contractors must be aware of these hazards and avoid them on the job.


  • Maintain a 360-degree awareness (head on a swivel) of moving equipment and vehicles.
  • Do not walk between operating equipment and fixed objects. Walk around.
  • Make eye contact with equipment operators or vehicle drivers before entering the operating perimeter.
  • Employers must use qualified riggers during hoisting activities for assembly and disassembly work (1926.1404(r)(1)).
  • If you’re moving a load that needs to be guided, use a tag line and let the equipment do the work.


  • Secure loose clothing (e.g. untucked shirt, loose sleeves, shoelaces, safety vest, jackets).
  • Moving parts on equipment should be properly guarded. If someone has removed a guard, replace it before you use the equipment.
  • Do not attempt to reach into moving parts unless you shut off the equipment, release all stored energy and lock out the equipment.
  • Remove gloves and secure loose clothing when you use drills and other rotating tools or equipment.


  • A competent person must be on-site during excavation work.
  • Slope or bench all excavations five feet in depth or greater. The angle is determined by the soil type (A, B or C).
  • OR protect the excavation by a trench box the full depth of the excavation or trench.

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Top Four Construction Hazards

According to OSHA, the top four causes of construction fatalities are falls, struck-by, caught in and between and electrocutions. Here are some guidelines to help prevent them.

Prevent Falls:

  • Wear and use personal fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Use ladders and scaffolds safely.

Prevent Struck-by:

  • Avoid positioning yourself between moving and fixed objects.
  • Wear high-visibility clothes near equipment/vehicles.
  • Separate foot and vehicular traffic.
  • Use overhead protection to prevent being struck by falling objects.
  • Stack materials properly.
  • Use proper rigging techniques.

Prevent Caught In and Between:

  • Make sure adequate trench protective systems are in place before you enter a trench or excavation.
  • Make sure the trench or excavation is protected either by sloping, shoring, benching or trench shield systems.
  • Isolate moving and rotating equipment parts.
  • Do periodic equipment inspections.

Prevent Electrocutions:

  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Use lockout/tagout equipment properly.
  • Locate and maintain a safe distance from overhead power lines when operating any equipment. Learn the safe distance requirements.
  • Use portable electric tools that are grounded or double insulated.
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters for protection.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

It’s possible to avoid these top four construction hazards with a little planning, so you can go home safely.

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