Improved Machine Design Can Help Raise Compliance with Lockout/Tagout Safety Rules

Improved Machine Design Can Help Raise Compliance with Lockout/Tagout Safety Rules

Industrial workplaces are governed by OSHA rules, but this isn't to say that rules are always followed. While injuries happen on production floors for a variety of reasons, of the top 10 OSHA rules that are most often ignored in industrial settings, two directly involve machine design: lockout/tagout procedures (LO/TO) and machine guarding.

Lockout/tagout procedures are ostensibly designed to protect employees from the unexpected startup of machinery or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. For a variety of reasons, however, these procedures are often bypassed or abbreviated, and this can result in injury or death.

Lockout/tagout procedures are ostensibly designed to protect employees from the unexpected startup of machinery or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. For a variety of reasons, however, these procedures are often bypassed or abbreviated, and this can result in injury or death.

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According to OSHA, three million US workers service equipment, and these people face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout procedures are not properly followed. The federal agency estimates that compliance with LO/TO standard (as governed by Standard 29 CFR 1910) prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. A lack of compliance leads directly to lost lives and injuries: One study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW) found that 20% of fatalities that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 (83 out of 414) were attributed directly to inadequate LO/TO procedures.

Much of the blame for a lack of compliance with LO/TO rules has fallen on the cumbersome nature of the rules, combined with poor machine design. According to George Schuster, a functional safety expert with Rockwell Automation, some of the government regulations range from simply impracticable to nearly impossible with existing equipment.


Post time: 23-04-2021