Line of Fire Incident Prevention
In the parlance of Occupational Health and Safety, the term “Line of Fire” denotes the path a given object will travel. Tasks we perform frequently have the potential of releasing energy in such a manner that if you are in the path of travel, contact can result in an injury or worse.
Stated simply, “line of fire” (LoF) means being in harm’s way. Three of the most common and frequent categories of line of fire incidents are:
- Contact with stored energy
- Struck by or striking against an object
- Falling objects
- Caught in, on or between an object
Recent statistics state that up to 27% of workplace fatalities are a result of LoF incidents, second only to slips, trips, and falls.
Target Areas to be Aware of:
- Moving vehicles/heavy equipment
- Hand and power tools
- Moving parts
- Electrical equipment
- Objects with roll potential
- Objects with fall potential
- Tensioned lines and equipment
The key to prevention is awareness. Once you are aware of the different forms of energy around you, you can begin to protect yourself and others from contact, and tasks becomes safer.
Being aware and informed is your first defense. Be watchful for conditions that may change where an LoF zone exists. Perform a job site walk-down to identify missing or weak defenses in work areas before conducting a JHA. Where possible, remind workers to stay clear of hazards by using flagging, barricades and three-way communication.
The best way to avoid line of fire incidents is to eliminate the hazards that cause these incidents whenever possible. By eliminating the hazards there is no chance that you or anyone else in the work area can be injured by that hazard. When elimination is not possible, engineering controls are the next best choice in protecting yourself from line of fire incidents. Examples of several engineering controls that could protect you from line of fire incidents include physical barriers, guarding around moving parts, and tethering tools on elevated work platforms to prevent objects from falling to the area below.
Being proactive and remaining vigilant throughout your work shift provides the best opportunity for injury and incident prevention.
Take a proactive approach by:
- Be aware of the constantly changing work environment
- Identify “Line of Fire” hazards in your JHA
- Try to eliminate the need to work in the line of fire
- Document and implement the controls of your risk assessment
- Monitor “Line of Fire” hazards through constant vigilance of both craft professional and supervision.
JHA Group Discussion Points:
- Where are the sources of energy in our work area today and what controls are necessary?
- What tools and equipment will we be using today that can create line of fire hazards?
- What are some examples of Line of Fire hazards in our work areas today?
- How can we eliminate these hazards?
- Lastly, always discuss and document the Line of Fire issues and what steps were taken to eliminate or mitigate the hazard.
For more information about managing these risks, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!