If your workplace duties have you working near the moving parts of machinery, you must insist on receiving the necessary safety training to prevent losing your life or a body part. Too many workers in the Atlanta metro area and across Georgia suffer catastrophic injuries because their employers fail to comply with lockout/tagout safety standards. Typical injuries include amputations, electrocutions and other serious injuries that could be fatal.
You will be at risk even if you do not operate the machine but are involved in its maintenance, repairs, cleaning, adjusting and servicing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates the installation of lockout/tagout devices to manage hazardous energy. These devices can also prevent others from reactivating equipment during maintenance or other procedures that expose you to moving or rotating parts.
Safety violations known to cause industrial accidents
Learning how others lost fingers, hands, arms or other body parts due to errors might keep you out of harm's way. Take note of the following mistakes on record:
- No lockout/tagout system was in place.
- LOTO devices were present, but the maintenance worker received no training in the procedures to follow.
- Unexpected movement of machine parts happened because, although the worker turned the machine off, the power source that energizes the machine remained active.
- Although the repair worker de-energized it, another worker turned the machine on while repairs were underway because no one tagged the lock to prevent other workers from turning it back on.
- Someone, unaware of the problem, used malfunctioning equipment because it was not locked and tagged to prevent activation.
- Moving machine parts caused injuries due to the lack of safeguards to avoid contact.
It is crucial for employers to make sure that all the employees understand the purpose of the LOTO system and how to use it correctly.
How can you prevent LOTO-related accidents?
Never disregard the hazards posed by moving machine parts and take the following precautions:
- First and foremost, never take shortcuts. Use proper lockout/tagout procedures even for jobs that take no more than a few minutes because entanglement in machine parts can rip your arm off in the blink of an eye.
- Identify the type of hazardous energy that powers the equipment before working on it
- Along with electricity, some machines use power provided by water, gravity, steam, hydraulic or pneumatic sources.
- Always use the LOTO system to control energy before working on any equipment and test it to make sure no residual energy is present.
- Never, ever reach into an energized machine to remove a blockage or for any other reason.
- Avoid complacency that happens to many workers who have done the same jobs for many years without problems. The moment you think it can never happen to you is the moment when complacency starts and the risks increase.
Take the same precautions even if you work near moving equipment without direct involvement.
Your rights to safety
As a member of the Georgia workforce, you have the right to a safe work environment. This means that you can refuse to work on equipment or machines that lack the necessary lockout/tagout devices. If you are the victim of an amputation injury, you might find the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney invaluable. Legal counsel can assist with the benefits claims process and work to secure the general medical expenses and lost wages compensation along with applicable benefits for permanent disability.