Consequences of Violating OSHA’s Machine Lockout/Tagout Rules

Consequences of Violating OSHA’s Machine Lockout/Tagout Rules

The National Emphasis Program (NEP) on amputations, instituted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), focuses on preventing accidents in the workplace that lead to amputation injuries.

Employers in various industries who come under the ambit of the program are required to implement Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standards in the workplace, failing which they could be subject to severe penalties.

In 2017, the number of NEP inspections conducted by OSHA was well over 3,500, accounting for over 10% of all the investigations conducted by the agency in that year. Close to 8,000 LOTO violations were found in various industries, as a result of which employers had to pay over $55 million in penalties.

The Costs of Violating LOTO Rules

If you violate LOTO standards two or more times – and if the violations lead to accidents in which your workers suffer amputation injuries – you could be known as a repeat offender, and your firm could be added to the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

The consequences of being designated as a ‘severe violator’ are as follows.

  • The firm is termed as a severe violator in public press releases.
  • The firm’s name is entered into a log of severe violators, which is publicly available.
  • The cited facility, as well as its sister facilities, are inspected repeatedly to check if the standards are properly implemented.
  • If LOTO violations result in the loss of human lives – and if the violations are deemed willful in nature by OSHA – the individuals responsible have to pay $250,000, and the firm has to pay $500,000 in criminal penalties.
  • In rare cases, criminal charges can be brought against individual employees (typically those who are in managerial positions).

The harsh penalties aside, the negative publicity resulting from being deemed a ‘severe violator’ can be limitless. So, employers should be cautious when it comes to implementing LOTO standards in their firms and factories.

Implementing LOTO Standards – What You Need to Know

The first thing an employer needs to know about LOTO standards is that they are applicable only for certain types of tasks or activities in the workplace. They include:

  • Service and maintenance operations.
  • Any activity which involves removing the guard or bypassing the safety system on a machine.
  • Any activity in which the worker comes in contact with or places his or her body on a machine or equipment which is used for material processing purposes.

One of the common mistakes that employers make regarding implementing LOTO standards is that they tend to focus only on one or two types of hazardous energy.

For instance, most employers are aware of the threats posed by electrical energy and implement the appropriate safety measures. On the other hand, not many people address the risks posed by different types of energy.

Other Threats

For example, a person who is servicing an industrial oven not only needs protection from electrical energy but also from heat energy. Similarly, a person maintaining a press needs to be protected from the forces of gravity.

So, the employer must address the threat of hazardous energy sources as a whole, rather than focusing on only one type of energy.

Watch YouTube Video: Control of Hazardous Energy for Lockout/Tagout. This video addresses the threat of energy sources from the OSHA lockout/tagout procedure.

Machine Safety Consultants Can Help

If you are not sure about the threats posed by various energy sources at your workplace, it might be a sensible idea to hire a safety consultant. Based on their recommendations, you can implement LOTO standards and eliminate the risks posed by hazardous energy sources to a severe extent.

Sacramento Machine Accident Lawyers 

I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Violations of LOTO rules can lead to accidents in which workers suffer amputation injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace, call me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.

Since 1982, I’ve had the honor of assisting clients in Sacramento and across Northern California in getting just compensation for wrongful death and personal injury cases.

I hold membership in the Million Dollar Advocates and the Top One Percent.

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