DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN – MACHINE GUARDING & LOCK-OUT/TAG-OUT!
October 12, 2023
By the Risk Management Team
How do machines work without an energy source? Simple answer – they don’t.
‘The machine turned on when it shouldn’t have’ – An employee became stuck when a mixer started during the cleaning process. Half of the leg was torn from the body. ‘The employee reached around the protective screen to unjam a machine’ – Attempting to fix a malfunction, an employee intentionally bypassed the machine’s safeguard to manually remove the blockage. The employee’s hand immediately encountered a blade and half of the dominant hand became mangled, unable to be saved. ‘I did not think it would start’ – One employee failed to follow safety protocol, the machine started unexpectedly, and another employee fell into the machine. The latter’s left foot was severed at the ankle.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, American workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer about 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths per year. These types of hazards continue to be among the most frequently cited by OSHA. With the appropriate preventative measures, such as lock-out / tag-out procedures and a machine guarding program, you as the employer can ensure equipment doesn’t turn on unexpectedly and prevent injury.
From the beginning of 2018 to date, SUNZ has experienced the following from amputations alone:
• $27 Million in Total Incurred Losses
• 315 reported incidents
• 285 Upper extremities, 29 lower extremities, and 1 multiple body parts
Nationwide, the costliest lost-time workers’ compensation claims by nature of injury are amputations, averaging $118,837 per claim filed in 2019 and 2020. – NCS Injury Facts
The lasting physical and mental effects of an amputation are life-changing and immeasurable. Machine Guarding and Lock-out/Tag-out (LOTO) safety programs and training are critical components of solid injury prevention strategies aimed at minimizing the risk of severe or fatal injury from hazardous energy or unguarded machinery.
Hazardous energy: Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers.
Fundamental Lock-out/Tag-out Steps:
- Prepare for shutdown.
- Isolate energy sources.
- Apply locks and tags.
- Control residual, stored, and potential energy.
- Verify energy control methods.
Standard Machine Guarding Program Elements:
- Fixed guards.
- Safeguarding devices.
- Additional engineering controls (Hierarchy of controls).
- Employee authorization and training.
- LOTO program with specific machine procedures.
- Preventative maintenance program.
- Regular inspections.
- Ongoing observations
If anything above is unfamiliar to you, we strongly recommend training (or re-training) of all personnel working with or around any machinery. For assistance, please connect with your SUNZ risk manager or send a message directly to the team and review RMC resources.
- The above LOTO steps are just a guide and are not enough to be OSHA compliant. To be compliant, LOTO procedures need to identify the exact equipment’s energy source(s) and provide the specific steps needed to turn off the energy source(s), dissipate the energy, and lock it out to keep it in a zero-energy state.
- NEVER remove, modify, or bypass guards! ALWAYS implement the correct LOTO procedures BEFORE moving hazardous parts for ANY reason.
- Training, training, training! You can have all the correct processes and equipment in place, but if you do not continuously train and re-train your employees on the machines they use, accidents will occur.
- Common sense, communication, thorough knowledge of lock-out/tag-out procedures, and an established machine guarding program are the keys to everyone’s safety when you’re working on powered machine and/or equipment.
Brush up on more amputation prevention with these additional resources:
|Energy Control Procedure||Energy control procedure establishes the minimum requirements for lockout of energy sources.|
|Control Hazardous Energy||6 Steps to Control Hazardous Energy Article.|
|Lockout/Tagout Procedure||Lockout/Tagout procedure helps prevent the unexpected startup or release of hazardous energy from machines/equipment’s.|
|Lockout/Tagout Audit||Lockout/Tagout Audit Report|
Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/Tagout)
Machine Guarding e-Tool
Amputations Fact Sheet
|Machine Guarding Checklist||Machine Guarding Checklist Resource|
|Risk Management Center (RMC)||Visit the Risk Management Center (RMC) for eLearning Courses, Videos, Training Material, and Safety Information (English & Spanish versions available for many resources).|
For assistance with distracted driving or any other safety needs for your company, employees, or clients, contact the SUNZ Insurance Risk Management Team.
We are here to help!
We shine by providing nationwide ‘A-rated’ coverage to PEOs, staffing agencies, transportation companies, and large companies. It is vital for an effective operation and profitable workers’ compensation program to control the amount of a claim when it happens and manage it efficiently and successfully. We first place a strong emphasis on prevention which minimizes the risk for claims. Our team of loss prevention professionals will provide you with the tools needed to have a safe and productive work environment. Embrace the power to be different and contact us today: email@example.com