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Safe Lifting Techniques (Sep/Oct-18)
Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Jul/Aug-18)
Have You Recently Conducted Your Required Safety & Health Program Audits? (May/Jun-18)
Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
SAFETY SOLUTIONS
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective

”Why do you think lockout-tagout accidents continue to occur in the workplace?” According to OSHA lockout-tagout (LOTO) is the number 1 most cited regulation in the manufacturing industry and the number 5 most cited regulation for all industries. The intent of Regulation 1910.147 Lockout-Tagout is to protect employees and property from damage due to unexpected activation and re-energization of machines when equipment is being repaired, modified, installed, cleaned or inspected. The procedure involves the locking and tagging of equipment in order to prevent accidental or unintentional use. And the potential consequences for failure to follow LOTO can be wicked: crushing injuries, amputations, burns, even death.

So why wouldn't employees want to utilize this program every time they service a machine? When asked I've heard, “It takes too much time!” “In the real world we're pushed for production numbers and in order to meet the delivery deadlines sometimes I have to do unsafe tasks to please management.” “OSHA just doesn't get that our process can't be shut down each time we need to work on a machine.” “It would cost too much!” “There's a lot of pressure to keep the line running.” “Nothing is going to happen.”

In my current role as a safety professional I'm privileged to enter different work sites. My neck bristles every time I hear managers and supervisors echoing the same frustrations, “We're so short staffed! I can't be everywhere!” “I don't have the resources to do things right!” “We are in a constant state of reaction and putting out fires!” “Everybody has an agenda and thinks their need is the priority!”

I know their pain. I too was a manager. My story however includes walking away from a great position at an aerospace plant over an expectation to compromise the safety of our workers. I wasn't willing to do it. Yes, I had a family and payment obligations, but couldn't justify violating my own core value summarized on a card I still carry, “Asking me to overlook a simple safety violation would be asking me to compromise my entire attitude toward the value of your life.”

When workers are choosing to bypass lockout-tagout procedures, it's a symptom of a larger problem, workplace culture. If the culture in a workplace supports disregarding OSHA regulations and gives safety only lip service, it's only a matter of time before there is a major accident.

It is possible to turn a culture around. Providing work sites where workers believe their personal safety is a priority, and where they can testify that the company really cares about their safety and health. It starts with the management team thinking of safety as a human right rather than a program and demonstrating through their decisions, allocation of resources and behavior that safety is an essential part of business.

Chuck, a high-level manager at a fortune 100 company took over an organization which prided itself in its maverick attitude and high level of risk tolerance. He turned it around by engaging the workers in the improvement process and showing he cared about them as people.

One of his first actions was to conspicuously post throughout the organization a safety policy statement he expected followed. It read, “I expect you to perform your job in a safe manner. I expect my management team to support your ability to do your job – without compromising your safety or jeopardizing your health.

If at anytime you are asked to perform an operation you do not feel is safe, I expect you to immediately bring it to the attention of your manager or myself. I do not expect you to perform a job that you feel is unsafe or the proper safety measures are not in place. I value you as a person, and I honor the integrity of this company.” He signed it and included both his cell and home phone number.

That short statement empowered both workers and managers to elevate safety and quit doing unsafe practices just to get the job done.

To do their job well management personnel also needed some basic foundational structure and support.

1. Clear, consistent and well communicated policies

A strong corporate policy, which covers the basic structure of the 1910.147 regulation and defines how to handle “gray areas” that aren't spelled out in the OSHA regulation.

2. Training

Many times supervisors, who are the eyes and front line of an organization receive very little training when promoted from the work force in either safety or in supervision skills. As they rotate through the organization there is need for additional training on new or unfamiliar equipment to support their responsibilities.

  • Have they been trained in OSHA requirements?
  • Are they aware of the hazards present on the work site and how to mitigate those hazards?
  • Are they knowledgeable of the equipment being used and hazards/warnings listed in the operators manual?

3. Engagement & Frequent Communications

It takes more than having a LOTO program in place that is compliant with OSHA's regulations to avoid accidents. Employee acceptance and engagement for change must be present. All stakeholders, including the operators, maintenance personnel, management, purchasing, finance, safety, engineering, union members, and others entering the area need to be familiar with hazards and their role stay safe.

4. Accountability Without any accountability, the best lockout-tagout program in the world will fail.

  • Do managers have the skills and training required to coach others in safe behaviors?
  • How do we know that the process is being followed 100% of the time?
  • Who will be responsible and what authority do they have?
  • What checks are in place as new people or equipment is introduced into the area?
  • What are the consequences if the LOTO procedures are violated?

Jose, a factory manager just days ago fired four employees for disregarding lockout-tagout procedures. One of those employees was a supervisor. “It was hard!” he shared. Jose views his people as family and knows they depended on their jobs as their only source of income. In the long run he may have saved their lives; lockout-tagout is that serious.

In each case Chuck's, Jose's and my personal integrity, honor and core values had been tested. As a manager the mutual respect and trust developed over years working with some truly amazing people wasn't worth compromising. Just like the song written by Aaron Tippin, “You've Got to Stand for Something!”

How do you know if your culture needs adjusting? You don't like the current results!

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.

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