According to Todd Grover, the Global Senior Manager of Applied Safety Solutions at the Master Lock Company, “In our experience, more than 80% of all U.S. companies either do not have a lockout/tagout program in place—or have an inadequate one.”
Lockout/tagout (LOTO) programs are designed to protect your employees from accident, injury, and death. It’s an organized system for shutting down hazardous energy before doing repairs and maintenance on your production machinery, exhaust fans, air handler units, and pumps. The goal is to keep the machinery in a “zero energy” state until all work is completed.
So why do you need a Master Lock lockout/tagout program at your company? Here are 6 reasons to get started—today.
Reason #1—OSHA requires it.
OSHA lockout/tagout regulations have been around for over 25 years, and include standard 29 CFR 1910.147 (control of hazardous energy) and CFR 1910.212 (general guarding requirements for all machines).
Unfortunately, these standards “tell you what to do, but not how,” said Grover, who usually counsels his clients to check out ANSI standards Z244.1 (lockout/tagout) or ANSI B.11 (machine-guarding) for guidance—or simply hire a professional to jump-start your program, which is easier for many companies.
Reason #2—Lockout accidents are very random.
“The #1 risk to your organization is complacency, especially if you have a history of no accidents,” Grover said. “Lockout accidents are very random. People are usually surprised when they happen. This could be the 100th time your employee has performed this routine maintenance task—when suddenly, a change in circumstances allows an accident to happen.”
Reason #3—Injuries and accidents can be severe.
When hazardous energy sources are not locked down correctly in the “off” position, then everyone participating in the repair or maintenance activity is at risk—and the injuries can be both gruesome and severe, from crushing to electrocution. According to EHS Safety News America, the OSHA lockout/tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year, from such simple activities as cleaning equipment, installing it, inspecting it, repairing it, or unjamming it.
Reason #4—An estimated 80% of all companies have inadequate lockout/tagout programs.
Grover estimates that based on his experience, only 20% of American companies have a credible lockout program in place. Approximately 50% have a partial program, and an estimated 30% have absolutely no program in place whatsoever.
“We feel that based on what we’ve seen, 80% of companies in the U.S. have either no lockout program in place—or a poor one,” he said.
Reason #5—You can be penalized.
A machine-related injury may require the employer to call OSHA immediately and self-report their accident, according to new requirements released in January 2015. It’s important to know that if your company does not comply with OSHA lockout/tagout requirements, then you may be inspected and incur multiple non-compliance citations, Grover said. And if an accident, injury, or fatality occurs because of non-compliance, that penalty can be severe—triggering an in-depth investigation of your entire operations.
Reason #6—It’s easy to start a lockout/tagout program.
You can put one into place yourself, using the OSHA and ANSI guidelines—or hire a professional to set up your program.
When Grover’s team is hired to set up a program, they send a certified lockout practitioner to perform a facility tour and make recommendations for improvements to equipment and procedures, based on the most current OSHA lockout/tagout standards and industry LOTO best practices. They then write new LOTO procedures, prepare a written summary that serves as a blueprint for the program, and train your employees in the new standards. He adds that this plan can easily be modified as your company grows and evolves.
About Master Lock Lockout/Tagout Services
Master Lock Company partners with IBT Industrial Solutions to provide professional lockout services—including lockout program development, written lockout procedures, compliance training, inspections, and audits. The two companies also offer a comprehensive array of lockout products, tagout products, and OSHA lockout/tagout consulting services.