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TOPIC: Electrical-safety

Lock Out / Tag Out (LOTO) Saves Lives

This past week, an employee at the Kraft Heinz Food Company facility in Mason, OH suffered a partial finger amputation while clearing a machine jam.

According to OSHA inspectors, the reason the employee lost a part of his finger was because the company failed to:

  • Implement energy control procedures to prevent equipment from accidentally starting
  • Install adequate machine guards
  • Train employees on the use of energy control procedures

In addition to having a valued worker severely injured on the job, Kraft Heinz is facing an OSHA fine of more than $100,000.

The tragic part of this story is that this injury could have been prevented had the correct Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures been in place, and followed.

Avoiding Hazardous Energy

When a machine or other piece of equipment runs, it builds up different types of energy such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical and thermal. Even when a machine stops or is “turned off” this energy can be trapped in the machine, waiting to be released.

OSHA provides three examples of ways that employees can be injured by hazardous energy:

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking a worker who is repairing the equipment.

And these types of injuries are far too common. In fact, failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents in many industries.

Winning the LOTO

 The good news is that it is possible to avoid these injuries. Below we have outlined some tips to help you develop a comprehensive lockout/tagout program.

  • Develop and document an energy control/policy that includes OSHA guidelines and custom elements unique to your workplace. This document should be reviewed annually, and updates should be made where needed.
  • Machine-specific procedures should be outlined that identify the equipment covered and the detailed steps to follow in order to shut down, isolate, block and secure the equipment. Instructions on how to install and transfer lockout tagout devices should be included as well.
  • Perform a walkthrough of your facility and identify energy control points such as valves, switches, breakers and plugs. From there clearly mark and label these points so that they are clearly identifiable for employees.
  • Train employees on specific elements and machine-specific procedures. The training should cover authorized employees who perform the lockout on machinery, affected employees who do not perform lockout but use the machinery and other employees who may be in the area of the machines.
  • Research and review your facility to make sure you choose the best lockout tagout device that fit your equipment and align with your needs.
  • Continuously review your program to ensure it is up to date with changing regulations and new equipment. Perform audits of your program and provide training for new employees or employees who are using new equipment. 

Establishing a proper lockout tagout program and ensuring your employees understand how to operate it can reduce injuries and save lives.

Looking to improve your LOTO procedures, but don’t know how to get started? Talk to one of our safety advisors today and schedule a site assessment or training program.

Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are all about protecting your workers in the workplace. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe and subscribe to Safer Every Day, the definitive digital magazine for workplace safety.

Have a safe day!

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Electrical Linemen – America’s Unsung Heroes

When a storm or disaster hits, we praise our first responders, the police, fire and rescue crews, health care workers and emergency management professionals who help keep us safe.

However, there is one team of heroes, who are often overlooked, the electrical and cable linemen who work to restore vital services like electricity and internet to homes and businesses.

 

IN THE LINE OF FIRE

These unsung heroes are called out after (and sometimes during) a major storm. Because of the need to restore power, they must quickly go out to make repairs, often in dangerous conditions while working on high towers, in crane buckets, on poles, or in confined spaces. Then consider that they’re working with power lines carrying an average of up to 345,000 volts or more of electricity on a daily basis. This has consistently made electrical linemen one of the highest risk professions in the U.S.

Need proof? In past years, electrical line workers have had an annual fatality rate of roughly 20 per 100,000, often putting them on the list of the ten most dangerous jobs in America. While the industry has worked to improve its safety record over the past few years the 2016 fatality rate was still hovering at 14.6 per 100,000. That’s the same rate as Police and sheriff’s patrol officers.

More than that, non-fatal injuries average around 2,500 each year, and almost 45% of those injuries keep them off the job for 31 days or more.

 

PUTTING SAFETY ON THE LINE

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, these fatalities and injuries are due to:

  • Electrocution
  • Falls
  • Confined spaces
  • Fires and explosions
  • Sprains, strains, and fractures
  • Environmental Stress

Linemen take safety seriously. The problem is that often the steps required to stay safe are often at odds with the conditions they work under.

Linemen are instructed to always be aware of their surroundings, to work in teams and take their time. These simple steps can often mean the difference between coming home safely and getting injured or worse on the job.

The problem is that when crews are stretched thin, need to work long hours in difficult conditions and face demands from their supervisors and the public to restore power as quickly as possible, basic safety protocols can fall by the wayside.

For this reason, having the right safety gear is critical. Gear should always include:

  • Insulated gloves
  • Boots with insulation and good treads
  • Insulated tools
  • Climbing and fall prevention gear

Even something as simple as having a drink that replenishes electrolytes in hot weather can make all the difference.

So, the next time you face a power outage, remember the brave linemen who are out there working hard so that you can get your power back.

Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are proud to serve as a supplier to America’s linemen and strive to provide them with the right equipment, when they need it. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe and subscribe to Safer Every Day, the definitive digital magazine for workplace safety.

Have a safe day!

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Electrical Safety: 14 Tips to Prevent Workplace Accidents


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) about 76,000 office workers nationwide have disabling injuries every year. Although the most frequent types of incidents are falls (either from height, tripping or slippery surfaces), many injuries also occur as the result of contact with electrical equipment or appliances.

Almost everything in an office setting today operates on electricity.  Electrical equipment used in an office, is potentially hazardous and can cause serious shock and burn injuries if improperly used or maintained.  If a part of the body comes in contact with the electrical circuit, a shock will occur. The current will enter the body at one point and leave at another and this passage of electricity, can cause great pain, burns, and even death.

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Shocking Costs of Electrical Incidents


Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300 deaths and 3,500 injuries. While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly with 1 in 13 electrical injuries resulting in death.



According to OSHA, electrical incidents cause an average of 13 days away from work and nearly one fatality every day. Electrical incidents rank 6th among all causes of work related deaths in the U.S. Over the past decade, 46,000 workers were injured from on the job electrical hazards and a worker is severely hurt every 30 minutes from electricity.  

Electrocution is not the only injury employees can get from electrical hazards. Additional injuries include burns, hearing loss, lacerations and other health issues. An especially dangerous event is what’s called an Arc Flash. An arc flash is the light and heat produced by an electric arc supplied with sufficient electrical energy to cause substantial damage, harm, fire, or injury. Electrical arcs experience negative resistance, which causes the electrical resistance to decrease as the arc temperature increases.

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Tragic Electrical Accident Leads to Safety Changes

Last week, I used this space to touch on reasons for being thankful. I also took the opportunity to promise to share in upcoming blogs impactful life changing stories about making positive changes in the workplace to keep workers safe. These stories inspire our own employees because we know first-hand that we are impacting lives in a positive way. I hope you will find value in the stories and the lessons that we share.

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Can Your Business Afford Electrical Accidents?

Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300 deaths and 3,500 injuries.  While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly.  For every 13 electrical injuries – a worker dies.  Most of these electrical related fatalities and injuries could be prevented.  Awareness of workplace electrical hazards and knowledge of best practices are critical to reducing these staggering statistics.

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Don’t be shocked by this…

We know that electricity is essential to our way of life. At work, some employees -- engineers, electricians, electronic technicians, and power line workers work directly with electricity. Others work with it indirectly. Perhaps because it has become such a familiar part of our daily life, we don't give much thought to how much our work depends on a reliable source of electricity. More importantly, we tend to overlook the hazards electricity poses and fail to treat it with the respect it deserves.

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The Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Workplace Safety Violations

On average, OSHA issues around 40,000 violations a year. These violations have the potential to be very costly to the lives of your employees and the livelihood of your business.

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Can you afford an electrical injury?

Electrical shock is the 2nd leading cause for lost work time (Burns #1)

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Reducing Electrical Injury in the Workplace

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics - For the last decade, electrical injury has been responsible for an average of 320 deaths and more than 4,000 injuries including days away from work annually in the U.S.

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