Many machines used in industrial and manufacturing processes can emit various types of dangerous energy. It’s essential that they’re correctly shut off when they are being repaired, serviced or cleaned and that they’re properly maintained so that they shut down properly. Otherwise, those working on them and perhaps others can suffer serious injuries.
Lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures need to be followed in every workplace that has this type of machinery. Lockout is when access to equipment is limited. Lockout devices include physical restraints that isolate a piece of equipment or make it inaccessible. This can be as simple as a lock and key. Tagout is when warning signs are used to caution employees about potential danger. These typically include signs or symbols on the equipment.
Federal regulations regarding LOTO procedures
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards for the servicing and maintenance of equipment that produces hazardous energy. This can include hydraulic, chemical, mechanical, electrical and thermal energy. Some manufacturing plants have various types of equipment, so employees can be exposed to more than one source of dangerous energy if procedures aren’t followed.
Companies are required by law to:
- Identify the equipment where these maintenance standards have to be used.
- Have documentation of their maintenance procedures that comply with federal LOTO regulations.
- Take the proper steps before doing any service or maintenance on this equipment.
If they fail to do these things, employees can suffer serious injuries and companies can incur substantial fines.
The consequences of failing to follow procedures can be catastrophic
Too many serious workplace injuries and fatalities have occurred because proper LOTO procedures weren’t followed. A machine that’s accidentally turned on while someone is performing a repair or simply doing routine cleaning or maintenance can result in a worker’s death.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed due to an employer’s failure to follow LOTO procedures, it’s essential to ensure that you get the worker’s compensation benefits to which you’re entitled. It may be worthwhile to look at other legal options for seeking compensation for expenses and damages. as well.