The month of June is National Safety Month, an event focused on bringing awareness to safety concerns in the workplace. Martin Technical, a member of the National Safety Council, wants to recognize National Safety Month and its significance. With such a high fatality rate in 2020 in the United States, with 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded (a 10.7% decrease from 5,333 in 2019), it is important to draw attention to this national topic. While this number is decreasing, National Safety Month is an event tailored around the continuation of the fatal work injury rate.
Top OSHA Safety Concerns
The list of top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA for all industries is released publicly every year to attract attention to safety concerns in the workplace that are often overlooked. With better knowledge and understanding of safety hazards that are often missed, companies can better prepare their workplace.
Additional to their top safety citations OSHA has also released information on their “Fatal Four” leading causes of fatalities in the workplace.
Falls- 36% of workplace fatalities
Struck by Objects- 10% of workplace fatalities
Electrocutions- 9% of workplace fatalities
Caught in Between- 2% of workplace fatalities
How can you address Safety Concerns?
With proper safety training in place the risk of workplace fatalities decreases. All industries should focus on building and maintaining robust training programs for fall protection, lockout tagout, machine guarding, and arc flash, which help to provide education on the fatal four in the workplace. Martin Technical, a leading safety solutions company providing services and implementation solutions, has in-house subject matter experts whose mission is to help companies build their own customized and efficient training programs. Working with industry experts can boost your safety program, build or strengthen safety cultures, and combat the fatal four workplace concerns.
The Importance of National Safety Month
National Safety Month is a national movement with the goal of bringing awareness to safety in the workplace, ensuring every individual makes it home safe after each day, to enjoy the best part of their day. Join the cause and continue to help spread awareness today.
Weston, WI – An aluminum manufacturer was cited for Machine Guarding violations by OSHA in Weston, Wisconsin for $159,522 for failure to establish safe machine guarding procedures and failure of training on lockout tagout procedures. The citations for machine guarding led to serious injuries and hospitalization of an employee after being struck by a puller, while the machine was trying to unjam a piece of aluminum.
The large statewide company focuses on aluminum extrusions, fabrication, coating services, plastics painting services, along with warehouse and freighting. The aluminum manufacturer is a multi-million-dollar company with over 600 employees across 4 locations throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Violations and Citations
The aluminum manufacturer has a history of investigations and violations with OSHA citing the company eight different times for safety violations, including past machine safety violations, between 2012-2019. OSHA investigators determined that safety guards were not utilized around an 8-inch extrusion press line, which is intended to prevent employees from direct contact with the puller. Lockout tagout procedures were not utilized preventing further danger to employees.
OSHA concluded the company could have prevented the accident if they had provided adequate lockout tagout safety training as well as installed proper machine safety guards. The investigation concluded the company failed to:
Apply 6 ft chain link safety guards around the 8-inch extrusion press line
Provide training on proper machine safety procedures
These violations of safety procedures resulted in three “serious” violations, totaling $159,522 in penalties.
“Machine guards are designed to protect workers from suffering serious injuries, but they are only effective when used properly,” said OSHA’s Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton. “OSHA will hold this company and others accountable for failing to comply with safety and health regulations put in place to prevent worker injuries.”
In summary, companies must be cognizant of the repercussions of not using safety procedures required by OSHA. With proper safety training and lockout tagout practices, this situation could have been avoided and the release of hazardous energy could have been prevented. Proper safety training will help ensure safe work environments and can avoid on-the-job work injuries. Learn more about safety trainings and proper lockout tagout program compliance and procedures.
In FY 2021, lockout tagout ranked seventh on OSHA’S Top 10 list of most frequently cited standards with 1,670 total violations. Furthermore, within the standard, 1910.147(c)(6), the “periodic inspection” was the third most frequently cited section, with 255 violations. Subsequently, the fourth was standard 1910.147(c)(1), with 162 violations related to lockout tagout procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections. Thus, NIOSH reminds employers of required annual lockout tagout inspections on written hazardous energy control procedures.
The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) addresses the practices and procedures to disable machinery or equipment. It is essential to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities. In sum, the standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, and other energy sources.
Useful Tips and Reminders for Developing and Maintaining a Lockout Tagout Program
Compliance with the 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. NIOSH has offered tips and reminders for developing and maintaining a lockout/tagout program as below:
The written procedures shall include the scope of procedures, intended purpose, names of authorized personnel, rules for shift change, transfer of locks, and specific methods used.
A periodic inspection must include a demonstration of the procedures and be conducted while the authorized employee performs service/maintenance on a machine/equipment.
Each energy control procedure must be separately inspected to ensure the procedure is adequate and properly implemented by the authorized employee.
The inspector must be a knowledgeable lockout tagout authorized employee who isn’t currently performing lockout tagout on the energy control procedure under inspection.
The inspector can’t implement any part of the procedure during the inspection but must observe the procedure implementation for the evaluated equipment or machine. Additionally, the inspector should speak with at least one authorized employee who implements the procedure to ensure a thorough understanding of the procedure.
Lastly, the employer must retrain the employee if the inspection reveals deviations from the written procedures or inadequacies in the knowledge of procedures.
In summary, performing annual lockout audits can be a daunting task without the right knowledge and right tools. Industry subject matter experts with Martin Technical can help organizations identify and fill gaps in their current lockout tagout program. Typically, the evaluations cover ten topics and over 100 investigation points through observation of work processes, documentation, and administration of the program. Upon completion, a report containing compliance status, code references for the deficiencies, corrective actions, and best practices will be provided. There are three Annual Lockout Program Audits as below:
On-Site Audits It is performed by a subject matter lockout expert typically taking two days.
Rapid LOTO Audit App
TheRapid LOTO app is an award-winning self-auditing tool for periodic lockout inspections. The app takes users through each step of their program and provides a variety of reports and tools to improve their lockout program.
Customize Auditing Programs
This inspection program offers various hybrid programs, including software, apps, live inspections, training, and online information. This option is best to create an audit program that best meets any organization’s needs.
STERLING, MA – OSHA cited a multinational manufacturer for $370,000 due to failure to establish and use lockout tagoutprocedures and provide training. Investigators from OSHA determined that the worker in the Sterling facility was sprayed with hot liquid plastic. The accident caused severe burns to the employee who changed a screen on a plastic bag extruder machine.
The company was founded in 1967, and supplies and manufactures products for households, healthcare, personal care, and food and beverage industries. The company serves North and South American, European, and Asian markets with headquarters in Evansville, Indiana. It has 47,000 global employees at more than 295 locations, including the Sterling facility that manufactures plastic bags.
Violations and Citations
The plastic packaging manufacturer has a history of workplace safety and health investigations. OSHA has inspected the manufacturer in various U.S. locations more than 40 times during the last five years. These inspections include two fatality inspections in New Jersey and Wisconsin; both were related to lockout tagout violations. The manufacturer has contested both inspections.
OSHA concluded that the manufacturer could have prevented the accident if they had complied with the lockout tagout requirements and provided personal protective equipment. Based on the investigation in Sterling, OSHA found that the company failed to:
Establish and use lockout tagout procedures.
Provide training to workers to use lockout tagout procedures.
Eliminate employee exposure to protect workers from the extruder machine while they performed service or maintenance.
Conduct periodic inspections to ensure workers follow the safety procedures.
Provide appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure that employees were protected when servicing the extruder.
Subsequently, OSHA cited the manufacturer for two willful violations and one repeat violation and has proposed close to $370K in penalties.
“Berry Global Inc. could have prevented this worker’s injuries if the company had the required safeguards,” said OSHA Area Director Mary Hoye in Springfield, Massachusetts. “OSHA will hold employers accountable when they knowingly disregard their legal responsibility to provide workers a safe and healthful workplace.”
Berry Global Inc. also meets the Severe Violator Enforcement Program requirements because one of the proposed willful, and the proposed repeat citation, are high emphasis standards of lockout tagout.
However, the company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
CAMDEN, NJ – OSHA initiated an investigation of the auto parts shop after a vehicle lift crushed a worker’s hand in Camden, New Jersey. Following the investigation, the NJ auto parts seller faces $1.26 million in fines for thirty-three workplace safety and health violations. The company sells wholesale and retail parts salvaged from used vehicles through an assembly line process.
The Investigation and Citations
OSHA determined that the company failed to have proper safeguards to protect employees from an accidental machine startup. The agency also identified 33 workplace safety and health violations, including willful, repeat, and serious citations, as below:
Failed to equip employees with personal protective equipment or provide fire extinguisher training.
Willfully did not prevent fires, which frequently happened along the conveyor line when sparking tools ignited gasoline vapors.
Exposed workers to electrical, noise, machine guarding, crushing, and flammable material hazards.
Willfully failed to keep an emergency egress clear.
Did not protect employees from being caught in automobile lifts.
According to OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson, “by disregarding required safety protections, My Auto Store contributed to a worker’s serious and life-altering injury. In fact, the company could have prevented the accident by complying with workplace safety standards and implementing safety programs,” he added.
However, the company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
GREENSBORO, NC – OSHA cited a mail facility’s distribution center in Greensboro for $170K after a worker suffered a life-changing injury last year. The investigation revealed the mechanic suffered an amputation after coming into contact with a machine that had a safety guard removed. Greensboro Network Distribution Center is a bulk mail processing and distribution center for the company with a programmable network of heavy conveyor lines and other systems that handles packages for delivery.
The Violations and Citations
Following the tragedy,Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the postal service’s facility, which operates as Greensboro Network Distribution Center. Subsequently, the investigation identified repeat and serious safety violations as follows:
Failure to ensure that safety guards were in place as required.
Allowing conveyor guards to be routinely removed, leaving workers at risk for injury.
Did not train staff on working near conveyors or proper methods for safely operating equipment using lockout tagout safety measures.
Allowed unqualified workers – workers without adequate training and protective equipment – to perform tests on live electrical equipment.
Therefore, OSHA issued two serious and two repeat citations, totaling $170,918 in proposed fines.
The company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
“The USPS has an obligation to eliminate hazards to ensure safe working conditions and prevent future tragic and life-altering injury. But the company ignored long-established safety standards and put workers at risk,” said OSHA Area Director Kimberley Morton in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Key Takeaways: Training and Proper Lockout Tagout Could Have Prevented the Tragedy
Key takeaways are to ensure proper Lockout Tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures are in place to safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. Establishing a complete and comprehensive Lockout Tagout programthat includes precise lockout procedures for all workers is essential. Partnering with certified lockout techniciansto enhance efficiency and turnaround time on developing LOTO procedures and placards is also important.
Additionally, routine safety training can prevent accidents and avoid fines, ensuring the highest level of workplace safety. Thus, employers must train workers in energy control and the skills required to safely apply, use, and remove energy control devices.
HENDERSON, TX – Following a fatal injury suffered by an 86-year-old worker, the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA opened an investigation. The worker had fallen from a stack of pallets at W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. The manufacturer has been family-owned and operated since 1943, with its private fleet of commercial transportation equipment.
OSHA Cited the Manufacturer Exposed Workers to Hazardous Energy Sources
The federal investigation at this Henderson sawmill and pallet manufacturer found the company exposed workers to hazardous energy sources and a lack of machine guarding.
“Sawmill operations can be hazardous work, but it should not be life-threatening,” said OSHA Area Director Basil Singh in Dallas. “W.D. Townley and Son Lumber Company Inc. showed a complete disregard for their employees’ well-being. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they neglect their legal responsibility to provide workers with a safe workplace.”
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citationsand penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
Proper Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. Employers must train workers in the purpose and function of the energy control program. In addition, workers have to be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to safely apply, use, and remove energy control devices.