Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Preventing Lockout/tagout Fatalities and Injuries: Disregarding Lockout/tagout Regulations Can Be Costly to Life, Limb and the Bottom Line. Does Your Lockout/tagout Program Measure Up?

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Preventing Lockout/tagout Fatalities and Injuries: Disregarding Lockout/tagout Regulations Can Be Costly to Life, Limb and the Bottom Line. Does Your Lockout/tagout Program Measure Up?

Article excerpt

In February, Insulfoam-Columbus, a Columbus, Ohio, foam insulation manufacturing plant, received two willful OSHA citations and was issued $155,000 in proposed OSHA fines following the death of an employee in August 2006. According to OSHA, a female worker at Insulfoam-Columbus died after being caught in and crushed by moving machinery that had not been properly guarded.

OSHA issued the two willful citations to the company for allegedly allowing the practice of bypassing interlock guards and for allegedly failing to enforce lockout/tagout procedures. The agency issued a serious citation alleging the lack of an annual lockout audit and one repeat citation alleging the lack of lockout/tagout training for employees.

"The tragedy of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from failing to prevent unintended movement of dangerous machinery is made worse by the fact that such hazards are entirely preventable," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA area director in Columbus.

OSHA had conducted two previous inspections at the company since May 2003, resulting in serious violations of OSHA standards covering lockout/tagout issues, machine guarding, powered industrial trucks and bloodborne pathogen regulations.

OSHA and LO/TO

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)--29 CFR 1910.147--was promulgated to protect workers performing service or maintenance on machinery and equipment who may be exposed to injuries from the unexpected energization, startup of the machinery or equipment or release of stored energy in the equipment. OSHA's lockout/tagout standard requires:

* The adoption and implementation of practices and procedures to shut down equipment.

* Isolate equipment from its energy source(s).

* Prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while maintenance and servicing activities are being performed.

The standard contains minimum performance requirements and definitive criteria for establishing an effective program for the control of hazardous energy. Employers have the flexibility to develop lockout/tagout programs that are suitable for their respective facilities.

The energy control program has three core components: energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections. Energy control procedures detail and document the specific information that an authorized employee must know to accomplish lockout/tagout, namely, the scope, purpose, authorization rules and techniques to be utilized for the control of hazardous energy. Employee training and retraining, along with additional training under a tagout system, ensures that the purpose and function of the energy control programs are understood by the employer. Periodic inspections of the energy control procedures ensure that the procedures and the requirements of the standard are being followed.

Energy control procedures--The energy control procedures must outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules and techniques that the employer will use to control hazardous energy. The procedures must state the means to be used to enforce compliance, and at a minimum must include:

* A specific statement of the intended use of the procedure.

* Specific procedural steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking and securing machines or equipment to control hazardous energy.

* Specific procedural steps for the placement, removal and transfer of lockout devices or tagout devices, and a description of who has responsibility for them. …

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