One of the most common Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations involves the lockout/tagout standard. Lockout/tagout is a safety procedure that ensures dangerous machinery and energy sources are fully turned off before maintenance or service. OSHA has very specific lockout/tagout requirements to protect the safety of all workers. Failure to adhere to these standards can result in severe injuries.
This year, lockout/tagout citations were identified by OSHA as one of the top 10 violations. The most common safety issues involved failure to develop and use appropriate lockout/tagout procedures, inspection problems, employee training shortcomings, and lack of or improper notifications regarding the use and removal of lockout/tagout devices.
Employers need to develop good lockout/tagout procedures specific to which machines are in use on-the-job. These procedures should detail all the steps one needs to shut down machinery, blocking and securing equipment, and properly removing lockout/tagout devices. Lockout/tagout procedures should be written down and distributed to all employees working with the specific machine at issue. Ideally, these written documents should include photos and diagrams that are easy for all employees to understand.
Training and Routine Inspections are Vital
However, providing employees with written instructions is not sufficient. Employers should actively train employees regarding OSHA’s safety requirements and the specific procedures in place to shut down any machines or energy sources that they might potentially be asked to use or service. When conducting site visits, OSHA looks at how employees are trained in lockout/tagout procedures. There are three types of employees OSHA considers: authorized employees, which consist of those who are authorized to use and service the machines or energy sources in question, and affected employees. Appropriate training and directions should be given for each class of employee.
Employers should also conduct regular inspections to ensure that lockout/tagout standards are being complied with. Sometimes, an employer does everything that they are supposed to do, but employees fail to adhere to the required safety protocol.
Ensuring Safety in the Workplace
Employers should also review lockout/tagout procedures frequently to ensure that they are keeping pace with modifications or replacements of existing machinery. There are several things workers can do to ensure their own safety and the safety of those around them. To ensure best practices in lockout/tagout procedures, notify all affected employees when you intend to lock out equipment. Review the procedures developed for the specific machine you are working on. Stop the machine and shut off all energy isolation controls. Lock out those controls, dissipate any stored and residual energies, and verify that the machine is in a zero-energy state before servicing it.
New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Advocate for the Rights of Injured Workers
If you have been injured on-the-job, the New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight to obtain everything that you are entitled to under Workers’ Compensation. You make a lot of sacrifices for your employer, and your safety and health matters. Call us today at 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation today.
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