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Were You Caught in the Line of Fire at Work?

Line of fire hazards are some of the most deadly in the manufacturing, construction, and maintenance industries. Nationwide, it’s estimated that 27% of worker fatalities are the result of line of fire accidents. Creating and adhering to a line of fire safety plan regarding machinery, tools, heavy equipment, and toxic chemicals can keep workers out of the line of fire.

Line of Fire Risks

Line of fire refers to the risks inherent to a specific workplace. These can include the three primary types of line of fire accidents; caught-in or between, struck by, or released energy. These hazards are common causes of injuries and fatalities for workers who operate machinery, handle materials, use hand and power tools, drive or work near heavy equipment, or utilize mobile machinery. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and every workplace has hazards that can cause personal injuries or wrongful deaths. 

Shielding Workers from the Line of Fire

Keeping workers safe from harm is everyone’s responsibility. When everyone on the team is on board, then everyone can identify and help monitor potentially hazardous situations for their own safety and the safety of their co-workers. 

Employers can help mitigate the risks by ensuring workers know how to properly handle equipment, and by making sure all equipment is in proper working order. Workers should also be aware of known safety hazards on the worksite and schedules of work to be performed so they know when certain equipment will be present.

Managers and supervisors should also perform regular safety checks to ensure that guardrails, cutoff switches, fences, and other protective measures are working as designed. Many times, workplace injuries are caused by the failure of safety devices and failure to adhere to established safety protocols and industry-specific safety regulations.

Behavioral Monitoring

Many lines of fire accidents are not related to known hazards, but rather to the “human element.” Workers who are tired, under deadline pressure, frustrated, or complacent are more likely to put themselves in the line of fire. Monitoring these behaviors can help reduce the potential for a serious accident by removing workers from the worksite or reassigning them to other tasks where they are less likely to suffer an injury. Employers should also train employees to monitor their own behaviors and identify effective methods of managing the stress of workplace pressures so that they don’t take risks that can get them hurt.  

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