Lockout/Tagout It is a hot day in the middle of July, and there is a brother and sister impatiently waiting while their mother finishes packing for their trip to Disneyworld. This is their father’s last day to work before his vacation starts. Their father is an air conditioning technician, and this morning he was called out to a movie theater to work on an air conditioning unit. This particular unit is located on the roof of the theater. It had been raining the day before; on the roof around the unit water is standing where he is going to have to work.

In checking the unit out, he finds electrical problems that require him to shut the power off to the unit. He looks for the disconnect at the unit. Not finding one, he discovers that the only way to shut the power off is a breaker located downstairs inside the projection booth. He turns the breaker off and goes back on the roof to repair the unit. He does not know that someone has also connected one of the projectors to the same breaker. While he is working on the unit, the projectionist comes in and finds out that one of the projectors will not work, so he checks the breaker and finds it in the off position. He does not know that the air conditioning unit is also on that breaker.

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The projectionist turns the breaker on and at the same time, the technician working on the unit is standing in the water with his hands on the wiring. The electricity flows and electrocutes the technician, killing him. If this unit had been properly Lockedout/Taggedout, the brother and sister would be enjoying Disneyworld with their father. Instead, they are attending his funeral. Lockout/Tagout is essential in the workplace because it prevents unneeded shutdowns, saves money, and prevents loss of limb and life. Lockout/Tagout is essential in the workplace because it prevents unneeded shutdowns. These shutdowns are primarily the result of improper Lockout/Tagout procedures.

In Lockout/Tagout: A Matter of Control, Susannah Zak Figura explains that in 1996 OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) reported that Lockout/Tagout was the third most frequently cited standard and that the average number of days lost from work was twenty-four per incident (27-9). In some cases, a portion of the building or factory could be destroyed by fire and cause the business to shutdown longer than was originally anticipated. According to Tommy Gilbreath, Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Tyler, There is nothing more unproductive than an injured worker (Personal interview). Often these companies wait until an accident occurs to implement the proper Lockout/Tagout procedures. Companies that have proper Lockout/Tagout programs in place have fewer accidents, lost work time, and fewer shutdowns than companies that do not. Safety is no accident explains Frank C.

De Felice, author of Electrical Construction and Maintenance (48). According to Occupational Hazards, AK Steel, a company with a bad safety record, hired a former OSHA compliance officer as vice president of safety and health to help the company comply with OSHA’s rules. Since 1993, AK Steel, the nation’s seventh largest steelmaker, has had a flash fire that killed one and injured two and an explosion that injured fourteen (Federal OSHA targets AK Steel for Fines and Further Inspections 25). OSHA issued more than 6,000 citations in 1996 alone for the violation of the Lockout/Tagout standard. Lockout/Tagout is a common sense approach to safety.

Yet, many companies do not implement it until an accident injures or kills someone. Then it is a little late. Some companies have had Lockout/Tagout procedures in place long before the OSHA standard went into effect in 1990; because the policies were not written down, sometimes crucial steps were left undone (Figura 27-9). Performing Lockout/Tagout properly prevents losses arising from failure to control hazardous energy. Figura notes that in 1994 a 3,700-pound table broke loose from temporary slings and crushed a worker killing him.

Because of this accident, OSHA cited the company for failure to control hazardous energy, i.e. gravity, and fined it $2.1 million. Under the Lockout/Tagout rule, hazardous energy must be isolated and rendered inoperative before work can begin. Not having the proper procedures in place accounted for seventy-five percent of the Lockout/Tagout standard violations in 1996 (27-9). The Lockout/Tagout standard is a common sense practice, which, when properly administered, will hopefully prevent unneeded shutdowns and be economically beneficial to all parties involved. Lockout/Tagout is also essential in the workplace because it saves time and money. Proper Lockout/Tagout programs will prevent or reduce fines and citations from OSHA.

Occupational Hazards reports that in 1995, the Middletown, Ohio, plant of AK Steel was cited for fourteen willful violations and five serious violations of the Lockout/Tagout standard. The proposed fines were $70,000 per willful violations and $7,000 per serious violation (Federal OSHA Targets A.K. Steel for Fines and Further Inspections 25). In fiscal year 1996, there were more than 6,000 citations issued for non-Lockout/Tagout and it was the third most frequently cited OSHA standard. Noncompliance is a serious and expensive mistake (Figura 27-9). In addition, Lockout/Tagout saves money because it prevents unnecessary damage to equipment resulting from improper startup during repairs.

Figura reports that the general industry standard 29 CFR1910.147, published in September 1989, was designed to prevent the accidental start-up of machines undergoing repairs (27-9). Machines can suddenly startup if the proper lockout procedures are not followed. Arnot Ogden Medical Center emphasizes that to prevent these accidental startups from happening, the worker must identify all power sources and lock or tag them out (Lockout/Tagout 1). Gilbreath concedes that a secondary benefit of Lockout/Tagout is that it prevents further damage to equipment being serviced or repaired, saving the company money. It also saves time because the equipment will not be shut down for as long (Personal interview).

In addition, Lockout/Tagout prevents lost workdays because of litigation arising from improper Lockout/Tagout procedures that result in death or injury. According to Gilbreath, If a company does not utilize Lockout/Tagout, then not only will it be open to fines and citations from OSHA if an accident occurs but also will open the company up for lawsuits from family members (Personal interview). Stephen M. Kelly, author of Lockout/Tagout: A Reminder, says, Injuries associated with improper Lockout are often serious or fatal. Thus, personnel must be held accountable and understand the consequences for violating Lockout/Tagout procedures.

Discipline should be initiated when Lockout/Tagout violations occur to bolster enforcement. Many companies have disciplinary policies in which progressive discipline steps are skipped and actions up to and including discharge are imposed, and when safety violations such as failing to follow Lockout/Tagout occur. This is because the risks associated with non-adherence to lockout procedures are simply too high to tolerate (40). Not only does Lockout/Tagout benefit the company economically; it also helps to prevent fatalities and lost work time from injuries. Importantly, because it prevents loss of limb and life, Lockout/Tagout is essential in the workplace. The Lockout/Tagout standard saves at least 120 lives per year.

According to (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) NIOSH they have investigated 1,281 fatal incidents during the years 1982-1997 of these at least 152 were caused by non-Lockout/Tagout (Preventing Worker Deaths from Uncontrolled Release of Electrical, Mechanical, and Other Types of Hazardous Energy 99-110). According to OSHA Fact Sheets, Lockout/Tagout compliance will save at least 120 lives per year (01/01/1989 – Control of Hazardous Energy Sources (Lockout/Tagout)). Secondly, Lockout/Tagout prevents at least 28,000 lost workday injuries per year. According to OSHA Fact Sheets, About three million workers actually servicing equipment face the greatest risk. In addition, OSHA Fact Sheets states that approximately 28,000 serious and 32,000 minor injuries are prevented each year (01/01/1989). Some of the injuries prevented include fractures, contusions, amputations, and puncture wounds.

All of these have an average of 24 lost workdays each. Injuries attributed to improper Lockout/Tagout are often serious or fatal. According to Occupational Hazards, in Oct. 1995 a flash fire injured …