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!