Warehousing is one of the riskier industries due to high-powered machinery and vehicles operating within proximity of each other. Rapid growth in e-commerce is driving an ever-increasing demand for the delivery of products in shorter timeframes. Industrial and commercial warehouses are to keep up with this demand while complying with the current safety expectations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports thousands of injuries, illnesses, and deaths in the warehousing industry annually. Many of those are caused by workplace accidentssuch as slips or falls, hazardous materials, and equipment malfunction. Warehouse safety should be the employers’ utmost priority to keep employees safe, ensure efficient operation, maximize productivity, and minimize injury or damage. Below are some factors to consider when planning a safe work environment for warehouse employees.
Building a Safety Culture and Procedures
Establishing comprehensive safety procedures can help prevent workplace accidents in warehouses and promote a safe work environment. An engaging safety procedure starts from the top-down; management should walk the talk in cultivating such values into the company culture. While employees may have the required certification for the job, this does not always include in-depth safety training. Thus, providing ample opportunities for employees to access safety resources, including signage, safety stickers, regular safety meetings, and safety training, is essential in creating a safe work environment. Consider developing training programs with the help of industry subject matter experts that offer blended and interactive training solutions. Ideally, a comprehensive training program should include a good mix of on-site training, hands-on validation, online learning, webinars, toolbox talks, andvirtual reality courses in multiple languages for easy access.
Other good practices include posting signs around the warehouse indicating different safety procedures, regular communication on safety tips, and announcements on new safety procedures. Incentivize workers to take safety courses and recognize their efforts to demonstrate exemplary safety protocol. Consider putting together a safety handbook or manual that includes potential hazards, safety protocols, and rules.
Establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout program that includes clear and precise lockout procedures for all workers is imperative, especially in heavy machinery warehouses. Routine training on using the equipment, shutting it down correctly, and isolating the power sources by following the proper lockout tagout procedures can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of safety in your warehouse.
Warehouse workers are more likely to internalize the safety culture and take it seriously when they know the company is responsible, accountable, and invested in their well-being. A safe work environment helps warehouses build a good relationship with their employees and supports businesses in achieving higher recognition.
Orlando, FL- A worker fell to his death at the Orlando StarFlyer while working on the attraction. The worker, identified as 21-year-old Jacob David Kaminsky, was said to have been climbing the tower while conducting a routine safety check before he fell.
The ride stands 450 feet tall and was permitted in 2018, advertised as the world’s tallest swing ride.
“They were doing their daily safety inspection which is conducted every day. That’s when the accident occurred,” said Jacob Stine, the marketing manager for the attraction. “We have an ongoing investigation right now to determine exactly what happened.”
OSHA will also be beginning their investigation into this situation. Stine noted that there are “quite a few redundancies” in their safety procedures and that they’re very thorough.
According to The Florida Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fair Rides Inspections, there hadn’t been any recorded incidents or violations with the Starflyer since it was permitted before this death.
Martin Technical provides safety training taught by trade experienced subject matter experts, as well as safety management software solutions accounting for topics such as maintenance and inspections.
Alhambra, CA – A foundry worker lost both legs last August after a coworker re-energized the machine he was working in. Alhambra Foundry has been fined $283,390 for federal workplace safety and health violations including lack of permit-required confined space program, inadequate machine-specific lockout procedures, missing accident prevention signage, and not having a confined space attendant monitoring his entry, the employee to have suffered the loss of both his lower limbs could look into hiring a workers compensation attorney to see if he is entitled to a compensation payout.
According to federal safety regulators, two Alhambra Foundry employees were cleaning and unblocking a 38-feet-long auger screw conveyor at the bottom hopper of an industrial air filtration device without effectively locking out the equipment. After the cleaning was done, one of the workers re-entered the 20-inch square opening to retrieve a work light from inside the confined space. Unfortunately, at that same time a maintenance worker 45 feet away energized the equipment to perform a test. The moving auger screw pulled the worker into the screw conveyor and both of his legs had to be amputated in order to get him free of the machine.
The Cal/OSHA Chief stated that “sending a worker into a confined space is dangerous, especially inside machinery that can be powered on at any time…Employers must ensure that machinery and equipment are de-energized and locked out before workers enter the space to perform operations involving cleaning and servicing.”
In their investigation, Cal/OSHA found that the screw conveyor was not de-energized and locked out before workers entered the hopper, and accident prevention signs were not placed on the controls. On construction sites, construction project management software is often implemented so as to keep workers informed of ongoing dangers and avoid potential incidents. Alhambra Foundry lacked specific procedures for de-energizing and locking out the equipment and additionally, the worker re-entering the hopper was not monitored by a confined space attendant.
Unfortunately, Alhambra Foundry was cited for similar violations eight years ago and therefore were issued a willful serious accident-related violation for failing to take appropriate measures to protect workers performing cleaning and servicing operations.
Singapore – MW Group faces a $200,000 fine resulting from a fatal workplace electrocution. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has ruled that a professional Arc Flash Risk Assessment and safe work procedures could have prevented the 2013 fatal electrocution of a worker at the MW Group Pte Ltd’s Pantech Business Hub.
Following a five day trial, MW Group Pte Ltd was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses. The director of the local Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate stated that the employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution, yet MW Group failed to provide workers with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.
On the day of the electrocution, a MW Group employee was asked to test and calibrate the ARS machine. The worker held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV to 12kV and during the test he fell backwards and became unconscious. He died later that day, with the cause of death certified as electrocution.
MW Group, an equipment calibration and testing company, is being fined for failing to conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an arc reflection system (ARS) machine. Safety investigations revealed that although MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing prior to the accident and electrocution was identified as the only hazard, no control measures were put in place.
Being able to have access to some quality management software can help employers to effectively manage any potential hazards in their business to ensure that accidents like this don’t occur again. It can help to perform audits, inspections, and assessments to help control findings. This software may be able to limit anyone else getting injured like this again.
Ultimately, there is no denying that putting emergency planning measures into place is the only way to prevent future disasters similar to the event described above. Moreover, Emergency planning and response efforts enable workers to discover unrecognized hazardous conditions that can aggravate an emergency situation so that work can be carried out to eliminate them.
Additionally, the planning process may bring to light deficiencies, such as the lack of resources (equipment, trained personnel, supplies), or items that can be corrected before an emergency occurs. In short, an emergency plan promotes safety awareness and shows that an organization is committed to the safety of all workers.
The Energy Market Authority, in its investigations into the accident, concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the start of the high voltage calibration works. Additionally, it was determined that the worker did not maintain a safe working distance of approximately 1.5m from the “live” terminals.
The Ministry of Manpower stated that as the DC output voltage level of the ARS gradually increased, this difference between the worker’s body and the probe to test the ARS he was holding resulted in a flashover, or arc flash – a dangerous type of electrical explosion.
Singapore’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate said that “The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution…yet failed to provide the technicians with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.”
Jeffersonville, IN – Lockout procedures and lockout training could have saved the life of former Autoneum employee Melissa Stephens. That’s the finding of the Indiana arm of OSHA which found five safety violations following the employee death in October at Autoneum’s Jeffersonville (IN) facility. The automotive manufacturer has been fined $224,000 for violations which IOSHA believes were entirely preventable: “had the appropriate safety precautions been in place, the fatality would not have occurred.”
Additional violations were classified as those with a “high probability of death or serious harm,” and totaled $14,000: failure to establish and maintain safe work conditions through employees’ exposure to being caught in rotating machine parts due to loose clothing; and lack of effective training on hazardous power sources, such as power from moving belts, that could cause employees to become caught or pinched by machinery.
Melissa Stephens (age 44) died after an incident with a machine at the Jeffersonville plant on Oct. 21, 2017. Preliminary cause of her death was ruled multiple blunt force trauma.
Autoneum is a Swiss-based company that manufactures GM and Ford parts and specializes in vehicle acoustic and thermal management systems. They have 50 locations in more than 20 countries and employ over 11,000 people.
Dickson, TN – On August 25, Dickson Electric Systems substation supervisor Zach Spicer suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck in an arc flash incident at the DES Old White Bluff Substation.
According to the victim’s sister-in-law, Spicer “was accessing a breaker cabinet, high voltage side when contact or an arc formed, causing an electrical fault that released heat and energy…He remembers stammering around and seeing everyone’s expression looking at him.”
Two days after the burns, doctors determined that Spicer had not lost his eyesight and during the skin graft surgery they were able to not only save his right hand, but also his fingertips.
Spicer remains at the Vanderbilt Medical Center Burn Unit where he has undergone three surgeries and numerous procedures.
A second Dickson Electric Systems employee also suffered severe burns to his face and neck in the incident. He was released the evening of the accident and is recovering at home.
An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
Temperatures can exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures rapid heat and expand surrounding air – the extreme change in pressure is known as an arc blast. The arc flash and blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors. These conductors expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.
When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.
Selbyville, DE – Compliance with federal standards for lockout/tagout procedures and training could have prevented an amputation at a Delaware poultry facility. OSHA has found serious lockout/tagout violations at Mountaire poultry processing. OSHA inspected the facility in June after receiving a report that a worker’s finger was amputated while operating a packaging machine. Fines for the safety violations total nearly $40,000.
Federal inspectors found that the amputation was the result of serious violations associated with electrical and process safety management hazards, as well as deficiencies with the procedures meant to prevent accidental machine start-up or movement (known as lockout/tagout).
OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Proper training ensures that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.
Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities (83 of 414) that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures specifically, lockout/tagout procedures.
The terms Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refer to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. They are used interchangeably, although “Lockout” is more universally used in the United States as it is the term OSHA uses, while ANSI uses “Control of Hazardous Energy ” in their standard, which is used more often by non-US entities.
Violation of lockout-tagout (hazardous energy controls) are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists. While many companies have general written policies, they may be lacking the equipment specific procedures which provide workers with the specific steps to properly isolate energy sources. Lockout/Tagout fines are based on each piece of equipment, and therefore can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The most common problem found in lockout/tagout compliance is the lack of written equipment specific procedures. Having a overall plan (company lockout/tagout policy) is only one part of compliance and does not bring a facility or plant into full compliance. Contact a Martin Technical Lockout Expert to get a lockout program evaluation or a quote on the services you need.
West Deptford, NJ – OSHA has cited Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC with three repeat and eight serious safety violations, proposing fines totaling $115,000. The chemical facility located in West Deptford (NJ) is a part of the Belgian plastics firm Solvay S.A.
OSHA investigated the NJ Solvay Specialty Polymers facility in Feb. 2016 and found several repeat violations of federal process safety management regulations, including failure to develop a set of written procedures for maintaining process equipment – a process know as Lockout/Tagout.
Having equipment specific lockout procedures written for each piece of equipment is required by OSHA. The lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO lockout procedure development program is designed to provide high quality procedures that are easy to follow.
Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services. A detailed description of our professional lockout/tagout services can be found on our website.
Additional citations were issued to Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC for failing to review operating procedures to comply with current operating practice, failing to inspect and test process equipment, failing to follow established procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and/or facilities, and failing to respond properly to a compliance audit.
At Martin Technical, we genuinely care about people. Contact an expert on our Safety and Compliance Team today to discuss how we can improve compliance and quality at your facility.
Baldwin, IL – Dynergy Midwest Generation, Inc has been issued one willful and seven serious citations by OSHA after an investigation triggered by a 2015 lockout-tagout accident that resulted in the amputation of an employee’s fingers. These citations carry an fine totalling $92,000.
The accident occurred at Dynergy’s Baldwin (IL) Energy Complex. A 46-year-old worker lost four fingers on his right hand when a feed machine cycled as he reached inside an access door to assist another employee with maintenance. OSHA inspectors found Dynegy Midwest Generation LLC liable for their failure to power down the machinery prior to employees servicing the machine, a process commonly known as Lockout Tagout. Unfortunately, OSHA also found that multi-finger amputations had occurred on this same machine twice previously.
The OSHA citations include failure to place caution signs on access doors of machinery to warn employees of amputation hazards; failure to conduct hazard assessments to determine the need for personal protective equipment (PPE); and failure to conduct regular inspections of energy control procedures; among others.
Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO Lockout Program is the most advanced and comprehensive program in the industry. We leverage our experience in maintenance and safety with today’s technologies to provide a robust system designed for ease of implementation and easy to understand. Our team of lockout experts assess your equipment and develop lockout procedures using our proprietary system and software. Using hand-held tablets, our lockout professionals can turn the lockout data into procedures by the next day. This rapid turn around time keeps relevant information in hand and allows for quick corrections when needed and makes application of the placards to your equipment possible the next day.
After the Lockout/Tagout procedures have been implemented, your Martin Technical field engineer will provide Lockout/Tagout training for those who need it and will consult with management on any of the Lockout/Tagout program requirements. Contact a member of our Lockout/Tagout Team today to discuss how we can support safety at your facility.
OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.
Martin Technical Lockout Training Programs typically cover:
Training to Corporate Lockout policy
Overview of Lockout Standards
Recognition of Hazardous Energy Sources
Energy Control Procedures
Limited Purpose of Tagout
Lockout Locks and Devices
Contractors and Vendors
Shift and Personnel Changes
Temporary Lockout Removal
In addition to training, your lockout expert will be able to consult with you and answer any questions that you have about your lockout program.
WHEN SHOULD LOCKOUT / TAGOUT TRAINING BE CONDUCTED?
Lockout Tagout training should be conducted on the following schedule
When a new employee is introduced
When a new piece of equipment is introduced
When a new energy source is introduced, or lockout tagout procedures change
When a supervisor or manager deems that a worker is not properly following or understanding the lockout tagout procedure.
Although annual lockout training is not required by OSHA, it is best done an annual basis during your periodic program review.
5 Key Components to Lockout Tagout Programs
Lockout Training is one of the 5 Key Components for Lockout Programs.