Lockout/Tagout Injuries and Fines Costly for Employers and Employees

[tweetmeme]OSHA announced it has cited Resource Management Cos. at its Earth City, Mo., recycling facility for 37 safety and health violations following an inspection opened after a worker died from injuries sustained June 12 when he entered a baling machine to clear a jam and the machine became energized.  Proposed fines total $195,930.  Twenty-two serious safety violations have been filed, including failing to lock out and tag out the energy sources of equipment and install adequate machine guarding; fall protection; exits; flammable liquids; fire extinguishers; powered industrial trucks; and welding and electrical equipment. Eight serious health violations were cited, as was a one repeat safety violation relating to defective powered industrial trucks that were not taken out of service.  The company was cited in April 2010 for a similar violation, according to OSHA.

This is but the latest fallout from the over 50,000 injuries that occur every year, including 120 fatalities according to OSHA.

What must employers do to protect employees?
OSHA has established requirements that employers must follow when employees are exposed to hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining equipment and machinery.   Here is the Top Ten critical requirements from OSHA:

  1.  Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.
  2.  Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out.  Tagout devices may be used in lieu of lockout devices only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.
  3.  Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
  4.  Develop, implement, and enforce an effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
  5. Develop, document, implement, and enforce energy control procedures. [See the note to 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i) for an exception to the documentation requirements.]
  6.  Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized, and substantial.
  7.  Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.
  8.  Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a lockout/tagout device to remove it. [See 29 CFR 1910.147(e)(3) for exception.]
  9.  Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.
  10.  Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.

What do employees need to know?
Employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures.  The training must cover at least three areas:

  • aspects of the employer’s energy control program;
  • elements of the energy control procedure relevant to the employee’s duties or assignment; and
  • the various requirements of the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout.

How can you get more information?
Go to www.osha.gov to start with,  but don’t think you’re on your own.   Seek out a qualified Certified Safety Professional to help you review your current program or design a specific program that fits your needs and complies with OSHA.

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