Workers in an industrial setting have to regularly deal with a wide range of hazardous energy sources like mechanical, electrical, thermal, hydraulic, chemical, and pneumatic. Failure to properly control these energy sources can lead to serious or even fatal accidents.
To eliminate the risk of such accidents and ensure the safety of machine workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a set of safety standards which are commonly referred to as Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standards. Unfortunately, LOTO is among the most commonly violated rules by employers across industries.
Applying LOTO Rules – What Employers Need to Know
LOTO standards are applicable only for the following operations.
- Service and maintenance operations.
- Any activity in which a worker needs to bypass or remove a safety device.
- Any activity in which a worker needs to place his or her limbs or any part of the body into a machine which performs material processing operations.
Regular production operations are covered under OSHA’s machine guarding standards, which deal with the installation and maintenance of guards for various machines.
Why Are LOTO Standards Needed?
The data points listed below can help you understand the need for LOTO standards.
- Data from OSHA shows that approximately 10% of serious accidents that take place in most industries can be attributed to the failure to control hazardous energy sources.
- Hazardous energy sources primarily pose a threat to service and maintenance personnel, since the very nature of their operation requires the removal of safety devices in most cases.
- There are over three million service and maintenance workers who are employed in various industries. In the absence of proper control mechanisms for hazardous energy sources, these workers stand to sustain serious or even fatal injuries.
- Workers who are involved in accidents caused by hazardous energy source tend to sustain burns, electrocutions, lacerations, and amputations. They also risk getting stuck or crushed by moving machine parts in many cases.
- The average time needed for workers to recover from accidents involving hazardous energy sources is 24 days.
What to Do in Case of an Amputation Injury?
Failure to properly implement LOTO standards often leads to industrial accidents in which workers suffer amputation injuries. If and when it happens, you are required to inform OSHA. Depending on the seriousness of the injuries sustained and various other factors, OSHA might decide to conduct an onsite inspection.
The rule which requires employers to report amputation injuries was implemented in 2015. Ever since then, over 2,500 injuries are reported to OSHA on average every year.
Failure to Comply with LOTO Standards – A Common Problem
Every year, OSHA publishes a list of the most violated standards and rules in various industries. A glance at the records shows that LOTO is one of the most commonly violated standards in any industry. In 2017 alone, a total of 2,877 LOTO violations were issued.
Employers need to be proactive in implementing LOTO standards in your company. You need to inspect the worksite regularly, make sure all the safety standards are properly applied and fix the deficiencies as and when they manifest themselves.
It is one of the most effective ways to ensure the safety of your employees, particularly your service and maintenance personnel.
Watch YouTube Video: Safety Training Video: Why Lockout, Tagout is Vitally Important. The video below demonstrates why Lockout/Tagout procedures should be implemented to prevent work injuries and deaths.
Sacramento Machine Accident Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Applying the LOTO standards can help eliminate the risk of accidents and ensure the safety of machine workers. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace, call me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.
I have had the honor of helping Sacramento residents and those across Northern California get full compensation for their wrongful death and personal injury cases since 1982.
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