Last month, OSHA issued citations against a Massachusetts manufacturer for alleged lockout/tagout violations related to an incident that left one employee with severe burns.
On September 23, 2021, a facility worker was changing a screen on a plastic bag extruder machine when the worker was allegedly sprayed with hot liquid plastic
, according to OSHA. OSHA has inspected the company at its various US locations more than 40 times in the last five years.
Following the incident, OSHA determined that the company failed to establish and use lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures or eliminate employees’ exposure, did not train workers in lockout/tagout procedures, and did not conduct periodic inspections to ensure procedures were followed.
OSHA also found that the company did not provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that employees were protected when servicing the machine.
The Agency issued citations to the company for two willful violations and one repeat violation
and proposed a civil penalty of $389,815. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA has developed a robust set of resources to help keep workers in the plastics industry safe.
Topics include LOTO, machine guarding, hazardous communication, and more.
What Is Hazardous Energy? What Is Lockout/Tagout?
OSHA defines hazardous energy
as the “unexpected startup or release of stored energy.” When this hazardous energy is released during maintenance or servicing, whether it’s electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, or otherwise, it can badly injure or even kill the employee(s) working on the machine. According to OSHA, failure to control
hazardous energy accounts for almost 10 percent of serious accidents across many industries.
Lockout/tagout is the industry standard for controlling hazardous energy. An effective LOTO strategy involves the use of lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out (i.e., physically restrained or blocked from starting up or releasing energy).
“Tagout” refers to the use of tags, which may be used when a lock is not compatible. Tags provide a warning for employees, but do not physically stop the machine from moving the way a lock does.
OSHA’s regulations at 29 CFR 1910.147 lay out employers’ responsibilities for protecting workers from the release of hazardous energy by implementing safety procedures and training workers on how to use the LOTO system
(see 29 CFR 1910.174(c)(7)).
Safety Training Is the Best Accident Prevention
When workers know the regulations behind safety procedures, they are less likely to cut corners, reducing the chance of accidents and preventing costly OSHA violations.
Meet OSHA's Lockout/Tagout training requirement with the Lockout/Tagout online training.
In addition to learning the basics of LOTO systems from the 29 CFR regulations, employees develop an understanding of risks associated with hazardous energy; site-specific energy control procedures; application, removal, and transfer of LOTO devices; and best practices for training and re-training workers on these procedures.