Editors Note: In an effort to provide the best benefits administration services to our clients, their employees, and their employees’ families in the automotive, roads, and fuels industry, the following is the fourth installment in our ongoing series of educational bulletins featuring real life events. Visit our most recent installment here, Going Beyond Benefits Administration: Workplace Safety Tips for Machine Guarding. Each anecdote has been taken from the archives of AWANE’s Automotive Industries Compensation Corporation (AICC) program and is designed to help inform, prepare, and protect businesses and their people from the everyday hazards within their workplace and beyond.
Why Workplace Safety Is Improved with Proper Lockout/Tagout Procedures
Workplace safety can be severely compromised when an employee fails to follow proper safety procedures. When this happens, a company can be subject to OSHA violations and fines as well as potential workers compensation claims.
The following first hand story from a workplace safety professional truly showcases what can happen when senior management fails to commit to company safety policies, including lockout/tagout protocol:
“During my past experience as a safety director I was made aware of what can happen if lockout/tagout procedures are not followed. Specifically, my company had an employee fail to use the company procedure and attempted to by-pass an electrical device in a panel and received an electrical shock causing severe burns to her hands and arms. The incident could of easily lead to a fatality.
In the years I’ve spent focused on workplace safety, I’ve found that it is unfortunately not an uncommon practice for an employee to work on equipment when safety guards have been removed. This is particularly true in the car wash industry where water and chemical pumps must on occasion be serviced.” – Former Safety Director
In order to ensure that equipment is not used when guards are absent, it is critical that the equipment is de-energized by isolating the source of energy operating the equipment. Sources of energy can be electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, steam, thermal, and chemical.
OSHA Standard 1910.147 requires a company to develop an energy control program giving the employer the flexibility to develop an energy control program. How To Avoid OSHA Violations and Workers Compensation Claims The following is a list of the most critical parts of the OSHA Standard 1910.147 that must be met:
- Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.
- Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. This may require changes in equipment devices. Tagout should always be secondary protection and should be used if the tagout provides equivalent employee protection.
- Ensure any new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
- Develop and enforce an effective tagout program when equipment is simply not capable of being locked out.
- Document and enforce the company lockout/tagout program without exception.
- Utilize lockout devices authorized for use of the particular equipment. Devices must be durable, standardized, and substantial.
- Lockout/Tagout devices must identify the individual users.
- Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a lockout/tagout device to remove it.
- Have a testing procedure to ensure all energy sources have been eliminated to the equipment before repair work begins and safety guards are removed.
- Train all employees that will be involved in the lockout/tagout program on the procedure and responsibilities. This training is required annually.
- When outside contractors work at the site, in group lockout situations, and during shift changes, ensure all company lockout/tagout procedures are followed.
At AWANE, we strongly believe that putting the proper procedures in place is key to preventing workplace injuries and fatalities — thereby avoiding OSHA violations and workers compensation claims.
Contact us to learn more about what other benefits administration services we offer, or to hear more about the culture of safety we cultivate as part of our AICC worker’s compensation coverage program. And don’t forget to stay connected with our Health & Wellness Safety Tips—we’re always adding more tips to help you and your employees create workplace safety.