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Workplace injuries can be avoided with lockout/tagout systems

Employers in Georgia are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees. Companies are required to have proper lockout systems in place wherever there mechanical or electrical equipment is in use. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified inadequate lockout or tagout systems as one of the primary causes of workplace injuries.

As one example, OSHA reported that a company received 24 citations for willful safety violations and was penalized up to $70,000 for each violation. The company was required to pay $1.6 million in penalties overall. This apparently followed continuous disregard of warnings about workers exposed to hazards such as amputation. Workers regularly have to maintain and clean equipment or clear machines of jams, and if energy sources to these machines are not locked out, severe injuries could be suffered.

OSHA took action after the finger of one worker was partially amputated, and another worker suffered severe injuries to his or her hand. It was determined that the company failed to properly lockout energy sources to 23 pieces of equipment. OSHA requires detailed lockout procedures to be posted at the energy source to every machine. Failure to do this could result in another worker inadvertently switching on the energy source to a machine where a coworker is performing maintenance or any other task that requires the equipment to be switched off.

According to statistics supplied by OSHA, workers employed to service equipment total approximately three million, and each one's life is in danger if these preventative systems are not properly installed and implemented. OSHA says every worker that is injured due to a lack of lockout/tagout systems needs recovery time of approximately 24 work days on average. During this time, injured workers and their families likely experience anguish about lost wages and medical expenses. The Georgia workers' compensation insurance fund provides financial benefits to workers who suffered workplace injuries. The benefits for eligible workers typically cover medical expenses and lost wages, along with additional relief for injuries that result in temporary or permanent disabilities.

Source: ohsonline.com, "Ensuring Safety with a Lockout/Tagout Program: Seven Steps to Compliance", Brad Montgomery, Jan. 1, 2015

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