The term “line of fire” is very common when talking about the hazards of a work task. Depending on the work being completed, there may be many different lines of fire or there could be very few. It is important to understand what the “line of fire” is and how to avoid being in it to avoid injuries.
in many of the tasks that you perform frequently there is the possibility of putting yourself in the line of fire. Statistics vary, but up to 27% of workplace fatalities are a result of Line of Fire incidents, second only to slips, trips and falls.
The line of fire is the path an object will travel should things go wrong. A few examples include cutting towards yourself, pulling tools or equipment towards yourself or walking under employees working above.
What is the “Line of Fire”?
A simple definition of “line of fire” is being in harm’s way. Line of fire injuries occur when the path of a moving object intersects with an individual’s body.
Three major categories of line of fire incidents are caught-in or between incidents, struck-by incidents, and released energy incidents. There are many specific examples of hazards for each of these categories. A few quick examples for each category:
- Caught-in or between-A construction worker is standing between a wall and an excavator. When the excavator spins around the counter weight pins the worker against the wall. Another example would be a worker placing his hand too close to a rotating gear and gets it pulled into the gear
- Struck-by– A pedestrian struck-by a moving vehicle or an object falling from a higher level striking a worker below are examples of struck-by incidents
- Released energy– A pipe releasing hot steam from a valve that is being removed or metal banding snapping back at an employee after being cut are examples of released energy.
When planning your work, consider aspects of the job that put you in the line of fire and implement a mitigation to the risks.
- Never walk under suspended loads.
- Cut away from your body.
- Never pull equipment or tools towards yourself. Position yourself so if the tool or
equipment slips it will not hit you.
- Never work directly under other employees. If you must work at an elevated height,
barricade the area below and use means to secure your tools.
- If you are hoisting materials, barricade the area.
- If you must use force when pushing or pulling, always look at where you would go if you slipped or equipment gave way.
- When working around equipment that could potentially start up, always lock and tag it out.
- When working around mobile equipment make sure the operator knows you are there.
Never put yourself in a position where you are between a piece of mobile equipment and another object.
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