Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.
Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.
Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinery or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.
A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.
Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.
Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.
Napoleon, OH – Failure to lockout a machine at Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corp. was found to have been the cause of a worker’s broken arm. Federal workplace safety agents inspected the aluminum can manufacturing facility following a lockout/tagout accident, and Silgan Containers now faces proposed penalties of $106,080 for one repeat and three serious safety violations of lockout/tagout standards.
The fines were the result of an OSHA investigation triggered by an employee who suffered a broken arm while servicing a machine at Silgan Containers’ Ohio facility. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment at their jobs. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout (LOTO) is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually in this country alone, and saves an average of 24 workdays that would be needed for recuperation in the case of a lockout accident.
According to OSHA’s Area Director, “Employers are required to train their employees on proper lockout/tag out procedures to prevent the release of stored energy or unexpected startup of equipment.”
It has been reported that OSHA cited Silgan Containers for similar violations at its Wisconsin plant in 2015.
Contact a Lockout/Tagout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can provide practical safety and efficiency services to make your plant or facility a better, safer, and more efficient place to work.
Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.
On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”
In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.
Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular facility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.
Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.
OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.
Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – 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 simplify complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.
Gardena, CA – A worker was killed this week in Gardena (CA) when the machine he was cleaning turned back on. The fatal injury occurred at the German Machined Products Inc manufacturing facility. Cal/OSHA is investigating.
On Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a call about a person trapped inside a metal-cutting machine. By the time emergency workers arrived, the man was dead.
The worker’s name has not yet been released, but according to the LA County Coroner’s Office the victim was a Latino man in his 60s.
German Machined Products’ Gardena manufacturing facility specializes in complex machining and assembly for the aerospace industry. There is a history of Cal/OSHA citations and violations at the plant. In 2014, Cal/OSHA issued four general citations and one serious citation against German Machined Products for failing to properly guard hazardous machinery.
In light of this fatal workplace injury, Cal/OSHA will be interviewing co-workers, checking the Gardena facility’s equipment, and thoroughly reviewing safety and training procedures at German Machined Products.
Accidents during machine maintenance and cleaning activities are especially tragic since they are highly preventable. The federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard is designed to protect the nearly 3 million workers who service equipment and consequently face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is estimated to prevent roughly 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually.
Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Lockout/Tagout safety procedures.
Surgoinsville, TN – Five serious workplace safety violations have been documented at MIS Industries in an investigation following a February 12 lockout/tagout accident that killed 34-year-old Arthur James Hendrickson. Hendrickson was crushed while retrieving a part that had jammed a hangar blaster machine at the Tennessee metal finishing facility.
Local officials say that Hendrickson climbed into the hangar blaster to remove a part that had gotten lodged in the equipment. Once he removed the piece, the door closed and Hendrickson was trapped. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
In the course of the investigation, TOSHA (Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration) discovered that neither of the MIS team leaders could recall receiving training on Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and were ignorant of any of the energy control procedures.
The TOSHA investigator concluded that team leaders on duty initiated maintenance activities on the Hangar Blaster without ensuring that the machine was de-energized to prevent unexpected startup. Lockout/Tagout is sometimes referred to as Hazardous Energy Control (or the Control of Hazardous Energy) – these terms refer to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment.
It is estimated that 3 million workers service equipment and these employees face the greatest risk of injury if Lockout/Tagout is not properly implemented. 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. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members were attributed to inadequate lockout/tagout and hazardous energy control procedures.
TOSHA concluded that MIS did not make use of its energy control program, did not effectively train employees on their role in Lockout/Tagout, and also neglected to conduct periodic evaluations of their LOTO program.
The five serious violations were: employees were exposed to a caught-in hazard as they failed to apply energy control measures to the Hangar Blaster machine; written lockout procedures failed to clearly and specifically outline the steps for safely shutting down, isolating and securing machinery and equipment to control hazardous energy; MIS failed to conduct annual inspection of their lockout procedures; employees were not instructed in the purpose and use of lockout procedures; and machine guarding were found to be insufficient to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards.
Auburn, AL – Arkal Automotive USA Inc. faces $47,857 in proposed federal workplace safety penalties after an investigation of its Auburn (AL) plant revealed that workers were exposed to electrical and amputation hazards.
According to OSHA, Arkal Automotive was cited for inadequate machine guarding, failure to implement lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to keep workers safe during machine maintenance and servicing, failing to implement safety procedures for entering a robotic cage, and for exposing employees to hazardous energy.
OSHA’s fines and citations were issued following a complaint that employees were not properly protected while entering injection molding machines. Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area office director, stated that “Arkal Automotive USA Inc. failed to identify and correct hazards to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”
Multiple lockout/tagout failures were revealed in the course of the OSHA investigation. Arkal Automotive was found lacking proper lockout procedures for working with robots or molds, including when removing parts or cleaning molds. Additionally, safety inspectors found an insufficient amount of the required lockout equipment for employees to use for hazardous energy control. The OSHA complaint said the company failed to ensure that if more than one employee was working in a robotic area, each employee had individual lockout devices.
It was also reported that Arkal Automotive failed to ensure continuity of lockout procedures on shift change and did not have adequate machine guarding when employees reached under a portion of a robot cage to retrieve parts and pass to the operator while the machine was running.
According to OSHA records, the same facility was issued four serious violations in 2017 for lockout hazards and other violations.
Arkal Automotive is a company based in Israel, with production plants worldwide. The Auburn (AL) injection molding plant opened in 2011, and is their only production plant in the US. The Auburn facility produces door carriers, wheel liners and other functional auto parts.
The eternal battle is production versus safety, and at the very center of this is lockout, or better – avoiding lockout. The complaint, by both production and maintenance is that locking out equipment takes too long, or if they lockout, getting the machine back on line could be difficult. They will also argue that the machines have interlock controls that provide effective levels of protection and allow workers to efficiently (and safely) complete their work. The truth: maybe, maybe not.
Interlock systems (machine sensors)
An interlock is a device that will prevent one element from changing (moving), due to a state in another element. Interlocks in the work setting include electromagnetic switches, RFID proximity switches, light curtains, trap key interlock’s, etc. Interlocks open control circuits but do not isolate equipment from hazardous energy.
A good example to understand interlock is to examine your home washing machine. Washing machines have limit switches (newer models have both limit switches and lid locks) that would not allow the washing machine to run if the lid was in the open position. Raise your hand if as a child growing up you used a pen or a pencil (maybe your finger) to push that limit switch and watch the washing machine go around (author hand in the air). The limit switch (interlock safety device) keeps the machine from moving, but does it isolate it from the energy source? The limit switch does not unplug the electrical cord and turn the cold and hot water valves to the off position. And under the right circumstances (accidentally pushing down on the limit switch with your hand), the interlock can fail in its purpose and activate the machine
Interlocks have been used for decades and are one of the most misunderstood and improperly used safety devices installed on equipment. Their intended use, reliability and integrity from a safety perspective has evolved, where now there are Category 1, 2, 3 and 4 systems. These safety devices were to prevent accidents. They do not provide the equivalent level of protection that lockout provides, which is the OSHA standard. In our example of the washing machine, in terms of current OSHA language, as a child I was bypassing a guard and defeating a safety device. Technically, these are now considered Category 1 Interlock Controls. Similar devices are used every day under the guise of providing effective protection against the expected (or unexpected) start up or release of hazardous energy. Sadly, workers are injured and killed every year due to the failure or misuse of these perceived safety devices.
Interlock systems applied
Your company has Machine “X”, which is currently guarded by Plexiglas around all working parts, with interlocked access doors for workers to access. Operators are charged daily with clearing jams during their shift, which requires the worker to open an interlocked access door. This will stop the machine from running and allow the worker to clear the jam. When completed, the worker closes the door and the machine returns to normal operation.
This scenario plays out every day in companies across the United States and yet, this is in violation of the OSHA standard if the accidental energization of the machine would create a hazard for the worker. Machine “X” is still energized, and we are asking the worker to bypass a guard (they reach through the plane of the Plexiglas), place part of their body in the danger zone or at the point of operation. In this case, lockout should be applied because of the nature of the task and the measures of control in place. These types of interlocks are installed to protect workers in case they were suddenly exposed (door is opened) to an area where body parts should be placed. Over time, these interlocks have been integrated (wrongly) into the daily routines and tasks of production and maintenance where sentiment is that this is “safe” and “compliant.” Neither is true.
These types of task are often repeated several times per shift, to several times per hour. If the worker was to lockout the machine each time, they would spend a large amount of their work day locking the machine out and then returning to service. OSHA leaves it to the employer to determine (and document) what is acceptable in terms of protection when it comes to Alternative Measures of Control. The ANSI Z244.1 standard has recently provided in its 2017 update some guidance on how to determine if the Interlock Control Devices provide equivalent level of protection.
Much has advanced in the technology, reliability and integrity of Interlock systems over the past two decades. The industry has seen the development and deployment of Category 3 and Category 4 Interlock Control Devices. These systems have been proven to increase productivity (uptime) and decrease lockout (downtime), but they do come with a requirement of significant investment in time and resource to install, implement and maintain, and still do not meet OSHA requirements. From the scenario on Machine X, it would be a wise investment to install an interlock system to save a few minutes, several times an hour — which then does increase your production uptime AND protect your workers from hazardous energy.
Too often we find ourselves in conversations with customers who are looking for solutions to avoid lockout as a means to increase production uptime. The majority of the industry has equipment that requires three or fewer locks/devices to achieve a zero-energy state. There is a good argument to use Interlock Control Devices in a particular industry, with particular equipment and involving particular tasks. Invest and protect wisely for true gains in uptime and worker safety.
Salinas, CA – Growers Street Cooling has agreed to pay $310,000 in costs and civil penalties as a result of legal action brought by the Monterey County District Attorney following a 2013 worker fatality at the Salinas-based produce-cooling company.
The death of Jose Juan Serrano (30) prompted the Monterey County District Attorney to file a worker fatality action against Growers Street Cooling. Serrano was working on a large piece of machinery at the Salinas facility in 2013 when a piece of equipment fell on him.
On the day of his death, Serrano was applying plastic covering to pallets of strawberries. Prosecutors said a portion of a pallet broke off and became lodged, causing the machine to stop automatically. However, Serrano failed to press the emergency-shutoff switch before dislodging the wood, which caused a large counterweight to fall and kill him instantly.
Serrano had been working for Growers Street Cooling as a machine operator for only 16 days prior to the accident. According to the DA, Serrano was assigned to operate a TransFresh Tectrol – a piece of heavy machine which wraps pallets of strawberries in plastic wrap and uses hydraulics to squeeze the strawberry containers in on the pallet for easier shipping and handling. As the compression occurs, a large counterweight on the opposite end balances the machine.
The day Serrano was killed, he was operating the Tectrol machine alone. When a wooden pallet became lodged inside the machine and caused it to jam, Serrano climbed behind the machine and used a crowbar to release the wood. Unfortunately, he did not de-energize, turn off the machine, or perform any lock-out/tag-out procedures. As soon as the jam was cleared, the machine reactivated and a large counterweight crushed him against the wall.
California state law and federal safety standards require businesses using any kind of heavy machinery to train workers in proper lockout/tagout procedures to minimize accidental injury and death. Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, thereby helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. The Monterey DA found that Growers Street Cooling never trained Serrano on lockout procedures before assigning him to operate the machine which killed him.
Additionally, the DA said that Growers Street Cooling did not maintain a written lockout/tagout policy or training program, and charged that they systematically violated worker safety laws. OSHA CFR 29 1910.147 provides regulations on LOTO (LockOut/TagOut) and 25 states have their own approved lockout tagout and worker safety standards. Often times, the most overlooked aspect of a lockout tagout program is failure to provide equipment specific lockout procedures. A general corporate written policy does not meet the requirements of OSHA.
The Monterey County court-ordered injunction requires Growers Street Cooling to maintain and implement written hazardous energy control procedures for all heavy machinery and maintain and implement written training programs for lockout/tagout procedures. Additionally, the Monterey DA ordered the company to conduct annual inspections of its lockout/tagout procedures and not assign employees to operate any machinery unless they are trained about the machine’s hazards. According to the DA, Growers Street Cooling has recently provided proof that compliance is underway.
Columbus, IN – A worker cleaning at Rightway Fasteners was injured after becoming pinned in a machine at the plant last week. The employee was believed to be cleaning bolts when the accident occurred. Columbus (IN) firefighters responded to the industrial accident.
The worker’s name has yet to be released. He was pinned in the machine and then extricated by other Rightway employees before the fire department arrived. The employee was treated for cardiac arrest at the scene by firefighters and ambulance personnel then transported to Columbus Regional Hospital.
Approximately 3 million American workers service equipment – these employees face the greatest risk of injury from hazardous energy. Compliance with OSHA’s 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.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same safety standard designed to preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment during routine maintenance. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers, 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures.
Rightway Fasteners specializes in cold forming, thread rolling, heat treatment and surface treatment of high-torque tension bolts, screws, shafts and pins for the automotive industry. They employ 339 employees. Toyota is Rightway’s largest customer, according to the company.
Queensbury, NY – A worker injured while clearing a machine jam at a wood products facility in upstate NY has prompted a federal safety investigation. OSHA is citing the former RWS Manufacturing Inc. plant for seven safety violations documented during inspections in November and February, stemming from reports of an employee’s hospitalization. The wood shaving plant currently faces $59,577 in fines, and has been fined multiple times for alleged safety violations in the past.
Reports show an employee suffered a “work-related inpatient hospitalization” from a wood shaving machine where federal safety inspectors documented a lack of safety equipment of the type that would have been used when clearing a jam on the machine or performing other maintenance.
These safety devices and procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout (or LOTO). 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 startup of machinery and equipment, and preventing the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. OSHA requires equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment including any prime movers, and machinery and equipment with mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, electrical, thermal, and any other energy source.
There are approximately 3 million American workers tasked with servicing equipment. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. 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. In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities that occurred among their members were attributed to inadequate lockout/tagout procedures.
The OSHA investigation into this wood product plant marks the third time in the past four years that OSHA has fined the company over safety inspections, with a total of more than $360,000 in fines imposed during that period.