Lockout/tagout regulations and policies have been in use in New York for decades, and many accidents, injuries, and deaths have been avoided through their use. Machinery accidents still occur, however, and the root cause for many of these situations is simple ignorance on behalf of those involved. Too often, proper lockout/tagout rules are not followed, or not taught to those using and maintaining heavy, powerful machines, which results in an avoidable accident.
Lockout/tagout procedures are generally quite simple. Any time a machine is being repaired or having maintenance done to it that is outside of regular, daily use, it must be turned off and removed from all possible energy sources. This includes electrical power as well as gas and pneumatic power sources that can cause a machine to operate while it is being worked on. Locks and tags are placed on these items to ensure that others know they are not in use while being repaired, and giving those performing the maintenance the only keys to return the machines to functionality.
Most accidents that still occur when lockout/tagout procedures are in place are a result of ignorance or improper training. Everyone using and potentially maintaining a machine must be trained on proper lockout/tagout procedures for it, and retraining should occur any time a new machine is brought into a workplace. Not only must everyone be trained, but they need to understand that the lockout/tagout process must be followed every time, regardless of the situation.
Even with all of these procedures and regulations in place, accidents can still occur, and there are a number of common causes for these events. One of the most common causes is failure to stop machinery or equipment. It should seem obvious that a machine should be completely stopped and powered down before it is repaired or worked on, yet many accidents are caused by people who do not do so. When turned off, some people fail to then disconnect the machine from a power source. This may seem like a hassle, but hundreds of lives have been saved by properly disconnecting equipment from power before working on it.
With some machines, however, it is not enough to turn it off and unplug it. Many pieces of large equipment can hold residual power even after unplugging, and that power needs to be drained before it is worked on. Surges and unexpected activity can still occur due to residual power, which can result in injury or fatality. Unfortunately, even when all of the previous steps are taken, sometimes workers fail to ensure no one else is at risk before turning machinery back on. It is important to clear an area of other people, and any tools used to work on it, before removing locks and tags and returning equipment to operation.
When lockout/tagout procedures are followed, injuries are prevented and lives are saved. But ignorance or negligence of these policies can lead to serious injury and even death. If you or a loved one has been injured due to improper use of lockout/tagout regulations, call the New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP today at (212) 986-7353. We can discuss your situation, talk about any kind of claim you may be able to file, and make sure your rights are protected. Do not suffer for someone else’s mistake.