Fatal Workplace Accident in Ohio Shows Importance of Lockout-Tagout Policies
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating a fatal workplace accident at an Akron-based recycling facility. A 24-year-old man suffered fatal injuries after becoming trapped while servicing a baler machine. Baler machines use thousands of pounds of force to compress carboard, aluminum and other recyclables into tiny blocks. Although an investigation is still ongoing, the incident is a reminder of why it is important for businesses to utilize strict lockout-tagout policies to prevent heavy equipment accidents.
Lockout-tagout procedures and devices can isolate hazardous energy while workers are performing maintenance. Hazardous energy may include mechanical, kinetic, chemical, thermal or other energy sources that pose risks to workers. Even when devices are turned off, they may contain residual energy. It is important for all types energy to be completely isolated so workers remain safe.
Workers cannot utilize lockout-tagout procedures and equipment without the proper training. According to OSHA, employees who work in areas where that require the control of hazardous energy should be trained on the purposes and uses of lockout-tagout. Annual training can help new and experienced workers master these procedures. However, different procedures may be required for various types of machinery, so lockout-tagout programs should be flexible.
Employers should also utilize lockout-tagout equipment to protect workers. Lockout devices can isolate hazardous energy and keep workers safe. These devices may use basic locks, blank flanges or bolted slips. Tagout signs warn nearby workers not to operate machinery or equipment while it is being serviced. Lockout-tagout programs can train workers who to use these devices.
What Options Are Available for Workers Injured in Heavy Equipment Accidents?
Not all accidents involving heavy machinery are fatal. Workers may suffer amputations and brain injuries after being harmed while servicing machinery. The long-term medical and occupational expenses for these injuries may cost injured workers and their families tens of thousands of dollars.
Depending on the circumstances of an accident, injured workers or their families may have benefits for compensation. However, there may be several options available, so it is important to pick up the phone and call an attorney.