From the Field: Lockout/Tagout Safety

Jun 15, 2015
Failure to properly LOCKOUT was one of the most common ways to die in a recycling operation last year: second only to being struck by mobile equipment. Unlike being struck by something with wheels or tracks, however, the LOCKOUT process is completely under the control of the person locking out. At least, it should be.

Failure to properly LOCKOUT has also led to one of our industry’s largest ever OSHA fines: $497,000. LOCKOUT was the second most frequently cited OSHA Standard two years ago. Last year’s deadly results will likely push this higher.

LOCKOUT is one of the most critical safety processes we use in recycling operations. It can and should be a simple, straightforward procedure. To this end:

  1. Train your people annually in the details of LOCKOUT. This training should occur AT THE MACHINE, not in a classroom. Everyone should take a turn locking out—hands on!
  2. Retrain workers in LOCKOUT when:  
    a. You get a new machine,
    b. You get a new employee, or
    c. You see people aren’t locking out like they should be.
  3. Determine simple LOCKOUT steps for each machine. Make sure you include TRYOUT as one of your steps. Print them, laminate them, and post them at the machine. Remember that pictures added to these simple steps cross language and literacy barriers and really do speak a thousand words. Make sure your pictures match the machine and show the person locking out what to do.
  4. GOAL: Get Out And Look. Go out and watch to see whether your people are actually locking out.
  5. Discipline any worker you see in a machine without it being locked out.

Joe Bateman is the director of safety outreach for ISRI. This blog is part of a series during National Safety Month in preparation for Safety Stand-Down Day on June 24.

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