SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Have We Learned Anything About Safety Over the Last Fifty Years?
In the September/October issue I wrote about the top 10 OSHA Frequently Cited Standards. Failure to follow proper lockout & tagout procedures and training, and lack of machine safeguarding always makes the list. Here is a good example of a recent case, I left out the name of the employer, but OSHA has all of the information on their website which is published weekly. This accident happened in 2020 but finally settled in 2022 with the employer receive a reduced fine for $36,450.
The OSHA report stated “At 2:30 p.m. on July 22, 2020, an employee working for a plastic packaging manufacturer was operating a thermoforming machine. The employee was cleaning out debris on the thermoforming machine #3 while the machine was in operation. The employee failed to perform the proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures and reached into the operating stacker and his arm was crushed. At 8:00 a.m. on July 22, 20 20, DOSH was notified of the incident in compliance with 342(a) and arrived on site on September 14, 2020. The employee sustained a fractured forearm and was treated at Riverside Medical Center but was not hospital¬ized.
In another accident that was found on the internet this article stated “the U.S. Department of Labor finds Ohio plant allegedly failed to use machine safety procedures, leading to fatal in¬juries of production manager”
As a production manager attempted to clear plastic parts stuck in a thermoforming machine, he became trapped when the machine’s conveyor cycled automatically and was fatally crushed at a Cambridge plastics plant.
A federal workplace safety investigation of the Nov. 17, 2021 incident by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that if ----------- Industries Inc. – operating as -------Plastics Corp./---- ------ – had remedied failures that allegedly contributed to the incident, the com¬pany could have prevented the tragedy.
Specifically, the investigation determined that the company allegedly continued to perform service and maintenance tasks after identifying that machine components continued to move after opening an interlocked machine enclosure door. The company also allegedly failed to ensure its energy control procedures included steps needed to shut down and de-energize the machine.
OSHA also found ------ Industries allegedly failed to audit machine safety procedures periodically for effectiveness and train employees on their use.
Compounding the tragedy, investigators learned that two similar incidents occurred on the same machine – one on the day of the fatal incident and another two days prior – adding to the tragic nature of the investigation. In the two prior incidents, workers barely escaped injury.
“Our investigation found -------- Industries removed jams and performed other service and maintenance tasks with the knowledge that its inadequate and failing lockout/tagout procedures exposed its workers to the risks associated with moving machine parts,” said OSHA Area Director Larry M. Johnson in Columbus. “The company ignored reports of malfunctioning equipment and near misses. By doing so, -------- Industries failed to prevent this terrible tragedy and the avoidable loss of a family member and co-worker.”
During its investigation at ------, OSHA opened a second investigation after a complaint alleged safety hazards in its warehouse. There, investigators found the company had allegedly failed to train workers on safe operation of forklifts and did not keep passageways and emergency exits clear or adequately marked, as the law requires.
In total, the investigations led OSHA to issue citations for one willful, one repeat, five serious and two other safety violations to ---------Industries. In 2020, OSHA issued citations to ---------Industries for violating lockout/tagout standards twice at this facility.
The company faces $291,086 in proposed OSHA penalties for the violations.
-------- Industries is a subsidiary of -----, a global packaging provider for food, consumer, agricultural, logistics and environmental end-markets.
OSHA’s machine guarding and control of hazardous energy webpages provide information on what employers must do to limit worker exposure to machine hazards.
In closing, I have written safety solutions for machine guarding, how to conduct proper lockout & tagout pro¬cedures, how to conduct periodic lockout & tagout audits, where to find free thermoforming training materials on OSHA e-tools website. Do I think we have changed over the last fifty years? My answer is still a big no. I offer all of you the opportunity for a mock OSHA inspection for a reasonable cost. I will tell you how your program fares against the safety standards. Those people would not have been injured or killed if their companies followed the proper safety procedures.
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