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Fall 2005 Volume 29

Feature Articles

Lockout/Tagout Feature Articles

Where would you typically expect to find lockout/tagout programs in place? If your answer is a manufacturing plant or a worksite with industrial equipment, you are only partially correct.

Effectively implemented and tested lockout/tagout programs are just as important at printers, grocery stores, bakeries, and most other small businesses. Simply stated, anywhere employees are required to perform servicing or maintenance on powered equipment is the right environment for a lockout/tagout program.

“Consider the case of a chain of nursing homes in the Midwest,” notes Chad Veach, EMC senior engineer. As part of compliance benchmarking for the chain, Veach noticed some deficiencies in the facilities’ lockout/tagout program. “They had industrial laundry and kitchen equipment, but they did not have a structured lockout/tagout program in place,” explains Veach.

Could this loss control measure designed to protect workers from a release of hazardous energy significantly reduce the likelihood of an accident at a nursing home? “You bet,” says Veach, who cites the following data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • Approximately 3 million workers service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout programs are not properly implemented.
  • Compliance with lockout/tagout standards prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.
  • Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 work days for recuperation.


Lockout/Tagout is OSHA’s Number One Cited Standard

3,793 violations
$4,342,462 initial penalty2004 data

Lockout/Tagout: A Simple Solution to A Common Problem
Implementing an effective lockout/tagout program in a nursing home or any other small business environment does not require a heavy investment of time or money.

An effective lockout/tagout program encompasses the following actions:

  • Establishing an energy control program.
  • Developing, documenting and utilizing lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Providing employees with appropriate training.
  • Providing equipment required to perform lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Ensuring continued competency through inspections and retraining.

The goal of lockout/tagout programs is simple —

to protect employees from injury due to unexpected or unintended motion, energization, start-up or release of stored energy from machines they may be called upon to service.

The procedures organizations can institute for an effective lockout/tagout program are also relatively simple to execute.

The minimum steps include:

  • Shutting down the system or equipment.
  • Verifying that all moving parts have stopped.
  • Locking and tagging each energy-isolating device in the proper sequence and with appropriate lockout devices.
  • Verifying that each lockout has accomplished its purpose and the equipment is completely isolated from all energy sources.
  • Neutralizing all stored energy and verifying that the system has been neutralized.

Take A Good Look Around Your Facility
EMC loss control experts encourage all types and sizes of commercial businesses to evaluate your workplace and identify the various types of powered equipment that keeps your operation running. If you require employees to perform servicing or maintenance, remove or bypass guards to perform tasks, place any part of their body in the point of operation or be exposed to associated dangers, it’s time to safeguard them through the implementation and use of a lockout/tagout program.

Count on EMC to assist your organization in developing a program that is right for you. Together we can put a lock on unnecessary employee injuries.

The following workplace deaths prove the value of having a lockout/tagout program.

  • The owner of a family-owned bowling center was fixing a pin-setting machine. Power to the machine was not shut off and the owner was crushed and died of asphyxiation.
  • A route driver for a dairy supply company was sent to repair a bulk cooler/washer at a farm. While making the repairs, he contacted live electrical wires and was electrocuted.
  • A maintenance mechanic at a commercial laundry climbed inside a tumbler to dislodge an article. While inside, the door closed and the tumbling cycle started. When the tumbler finished its cycle, it emptied its load onto a conveyor belt. The employee was found 25 minutes later, coming down the conveyor.
  • Who should be authorized to lockout?
  • Where are all relevant energy components, disconnecting points, blocking, discharging and bleeding points?
  • Should associated and/or adjoining equipment be locked out?
  • Are lockout procedures customized to address the unique needs of each piece of equipment?
  • When purchasing new machines, do you give priority to those that workers can most easily control for hazardous energy?

EMC loss control specialists can help you address each of these questions as you develop your company’s lockout/tagout program.

Additional information can be found at in both the Loss Prevention Information Manual and Technical Information Sheets sections of the site.

Other Topics:

Employee exposure to unguarded or inadequately guarded machines is prevalent in many workplaces. Consequently, workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions and over 800 deaths per year. Answer the following questions to make certain you are taking the necessary steps to ensure that employees understand the importance of safety in all aspects of their work.

YES ____ NO____ Is safety discussed with each person during the interview process?
YES ____ NO____ Is each interview candidate given a chance to express his/her attitudes on safety in the workplace?
YES ____ NO____ Are prior accidents/injuries or property damage in the workplace discussed with each candidate?
YES ____ NO____ As part of the reference review/interview, are potential employee’s attitudes and ability to work safely discussed with his/ her reference?
YES ____ NO____ Are machinery safety and work practices reviewed with each affected employee during new employee orientation?
YES ____ NO____ Is regular job site safety and health reviewed with new employees? Topics should include, but are not limited to: standard operating procedures for each machine to be used; machine guarding specifics for each machine or process being used; training regarding personal protective equipment; and how to report damage and/or malfunctions.
YES ____ NO____ Are employees briefed on appropriate housekeeping requirements for the work being done, including disposal, product storage and material handling methods?
YES ____ NO____ Are employees advised of the consequences of not following safety training and approved guidelines, and the steps involved toward termination? (Ensure your protection and the company’s by maintaining a signature sheet in each personnel folder.)
YES ____ NO____ Is annual training given as needed in those areas requiring it, or as new hazards are introduced into the workplace?
YES ____ NO____ Are workers trained in first aid procedures as well as location of first aid supplies?
YES ____ NO____ Are emergency notification numbers clearly posted and up to date for all areas?
YES ____ NO____ Is each employee briefed on reporting accidents/injuries and the required paperwork to be completed in a timely manner?
[Checklist courtesy of Stephens Publishing Corporation, Dallas, TX.]

Companies of all types and sizes should review their safety plans and programs on an annual basis. These reviews help you keep current with OSHA standards and protect workers from accidents. They may also protect your company from costly OSHA citations.

Count on EMC to provide reviews that will:

  • Identify programs required by OSHA based on your operations.
  • Examine existing safety programs to determine if they are in compliance with OSHA regulations.
  • Assess the overall effectiveness of your safety programs.
  • Confirm that training efforts are in place to assure the success of your safety program.

Remember, these reviews, which are provided free of charge to EMC commercial clients, can save you from worksite accidents and costly OSHA fines. Call your agent to schedule a review today!

Hand and portable power tools are present in nearly every industry. These tools help us to easily perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary in order to reduce or eliminate these hazards.

The following checklist, from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), may help you evaluate your safety procedures for hand and portable, power-operated tools and equipment.

Hand Tools

  • Are all tools and equipment (both company and employee owned) in good condition?
  • Are hand tools such as chisels and punches, which develop mushroomed heads during use, reconditioned or replaced as necessary?
  • Are broken or fractured handles on hammers, axes and similar equipment replaced promptly?
  • Are worn or bent wrenches replaced?
  • Are appropriate safety glasses, face shields, etc. used while using hand tools or equipment that might produce flying materials or be subject to breakage?
  • Are tool cutting edges kept sharp so the tool will move smoothly without binding or skipping?
  • Are tools stored in dry, secure locations where they won’t be tampered with?

Portable (Power-Operated) Tools and Equipment

  • Are grinders, saws and similar equipment equipped with appropriate safety guards?
  • Are power tools used with the correct shield, guard, or attachments, recommended by the manufacturer?
  • Are portable circular saws equipped with guards above and below the base shoe?
  • Are circular saw guards checked to assure they are not wedged up, thus leaving the lower portion of the blade unguarded?
  • Are rotating or moving parts of equipment guarded to prevent physical contact?
  • Are all cord-connected, electrically operated tools and equipment effectively grounded or of the approved double insulated type?
  • Are effective guards in place over belts, pulleys, chains and sprockets, on equipment such as concrete mixers and air compressors?
  • Are portable fans provided with full guards or screens having openings 1/2 inch or less?
  • Are ground-fault circuit interrupters provided on all temporary construction electrical circuits?
  • Are pneumatic and hydraulic hoses on power-operated tools checked regularly for deterioration or damage?

Powder-actuated tools can present even greater hazards than hand tools and portable power tools. As a result, they require additional safety measures.

  • Are employees who operate powder-actuated tools trained in their use and required to carry a valid operator’s card?
  • Is each powder-actuated tool stored in its own locked container when not being used?
  • Is a sign at least 7 inches by 10 inches with bold face type reading “POWDER-ACTUATED TOOL IN USE” conspicuously posted when the tool is being used?
  • Are powder-actuated tools left unloaded until they are actually ready to be used?
  • Are powder-actuated tools inspected each day before use for obstructions or defects?
  • Do powder-actuated tool operators have and use appropriate personal protective equipment?

By spending a little time on preseason checks of your heating equipment, you could actually save fuel costs. According to Ernest Freeman, director of risk services for Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), a properly serviced boiler will not have to work as hard, thus saving you money throughout the heating season. “The savings in energy costs will more than pay for a qualified service firm to provide your preseason check,” adds Freeman.

With colder weather coming, EMC recommends the following heating boiler start-up checklist provided by the experts of HSB.

  • Have a competent service firm disassemble the low water cut-off and make-up water feeding devices. These parts should be thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned as required.
  • Burner equipment should be cleaned and adjusted for maximum efficiency.
  • The boiler heating surfaces, firebox, ash pit, casings and ducts should be cleaned of all deposits.
  • The safety/relief valve should be tested for freedom of operation.
  • All pressure and temperature controls and gauges should be checked for operation and adjusted or replaced as necessary.
  • The water level gauge glass should be cleaned to indicate the proper water level at all times.
  • Any leaking pipes or fittings located on the boiler or anywhere throughout the heating system should be repaired.
  • Water lines exposed to freezing temperatures should be insulated.
  • All mechanical equipment, such as fans and pumps, should be checked for smooth operation and proper lubrication.
  • The boiler room should be kept dry and cleaned.

For a complete heating boiler start-up checklist, visit

The Food and Drug Administration issued final regulations on the establishment and maintenance of records to protect the U.S. human food and animal supply in the event of bioterrorism. For complete details visit

EPA has removed six chemicals from the list of regulated pollutants in an effort to entice industry to use solvents that are less toxic. For a complete list of chemicals, visit

According to a recent study of the UK workforce, work-related stress plays a role in the onset of musculo-skeletal disorders, while factors such as age or a negative mood have less impact.

Of the 1.1 million lost-time injuries and illnesses reported in 2002, over half occurred during the first 4 hours on the job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


There was really nothing unusual about the task at hand — clearing earth away from the foundation footings of a house. The two-man crew had done it many times before. But this time, something went wrong. One crew member dismounted from the backhoe to inspect the trench they had dug. When he climbed back into the backhoe, he inadvertently hit the boom swing control, swinging the boom toward the other crew member who was standing in the trench, pinning him against the house. The 32-year-old construction worker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Was this a fluke accident? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) doesn’t think so. According to their review of Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 346 deaths associated with excavators and backhoe loaders reported between 1992 and 2000. Their conclusion — workers who operate or work near hydraulic excavators and backhoe loaders are at risk of being struck by the machine or its components or by excavator buckets that detach from the excavator boom.

What can you do to help increase the safety of your crews? NIOSH recommends the following loss control strategies for equipment operators and other site workers.

Keeping Equipment Operators Safe

  • Train equipment operators on the proper use of equipment.
  • Continually evaluate safety programs to address changing worksite conditions.
  • Clearly identify and label all machine controls.
  • Install and maintain equipment attachments and their operating systems according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Train operators to conduct visual and operational checks on all machine systems and controls before operating the machine.
  • Use the rollover protective system and seat belt supplied by the manufacturer.
  • Do not exceed load capacities when lifting materials.
  • Instruct operators to lower the boom to a safe position with the bucket on the ground and turn off the machine before stepping off for any reason.

Keeping Other Site Workers Safe

  • Make site workers aware of the machine’s established swing areas and blind spots before the operator works the machine.
  • Before each work shift begins, review and confirm communication signals between machine operators and workers on foot.
  • Keep workers outside the hydraulic excavator swing areas and clear of attachments when using the machines for hoisting.
  • Never permit workers to ride in or work from machine buckets.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment.

In addition to training operators and site workers, NIOSH recommends the following strategies for making the worksite itself a safer environment.

  • Contact local utilities or one-call services to locate underground utility lines. If you must work near overhead power lines, follow OSHA regulations for minimum clearance.
  • Do not permit hydraulic excavators or backhoes to be operated on grades steeper than those specified by the manufacturer.
  • Make sure that workers position machinery at a safe distance from excavations such as trenches.

Local Governments

“I was just running up to the store.” “I had to unbuckle it to reach for something.” “It’s really uncomfortable.”

These are just a few of the excuses police officers hear from people who don’t buckle up, but what excuses do police officers have for not obeying this first rule of driver safety? Results of a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Trauma show that unbelted police officers are 2.6 times more likely to die in their patrol car crashes than officers who use a seatbelt.

“More police officers died from traffic accidents in 2003 than from gunshot wounds,” said Dietrich Jehle, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and lead author of the study. “The fact that traffic-related crash fatalities are now greater than the number of officers killed by felons suggests this issue needs to be revisited on a national scale,” he said.

The researchers found that rushing to a crime scene was not the major reason for not buckling up, as might be suspected. The findings showed that 60 percent of fatal crashes occurred when police were responding to non-emergency calls. Seatbelt use was slightly lower for these calls as compared to emergency calls.

The researchers analyzed all automobile crashes between 1997 and 2001 involving a fatality in a “marked” police vehicle. Only occupants in the police vehicle involved in the crash and only crashes in which information on seatbelt use was available were included in the analysis. There were 516 occupants of police cars that met the study criteria. Of those, 106 died. Twenty percent of all occupants were not belted during the crash. Results showed that 40.4 percent of the unbelted occupants died, compared to 15.5 percent of those wearing seatbelts.

“Civilians are often ticketed for not wearing seatbelts, but paradoxically, police officers are exempt from this law because of the amount of additional gear they have to wear,” Jehle noted. “The thought is that seatbelts can get tangled up in the gear. Plus, officers get in and out of their cars many times a day, which makes buckling up an inconvenience. Even police departments that have seatbelt rules often don’t enforce them vigorously,” he said.

According to Jehle, one way to make wearing seatbelts more acceptable would be to improve the technology. “Belts could be engineered to release as soon as the door opens or when the car is shifted into park,” he suggests. Until that time comes, remind your law enforcement personnel that seatbelts save lives — for police offices as well as civilians.

[This article is reprinted courtesy of Stevens Publishing Corporation, Dallas, TX.]

For maximum safety, be sure to check the condition of seatbelts on a regular basis.

  • Check the engagement of the tongue and buckle. The buckle and tongue assembly should securely latch together with no free play.
  • There should be no visible cracks on the buckle and the buckle cover must be intact.
  • The tongue should have no metal deformation, webbing marks or visible cracks on metal or plastic sections.
  • Pull the belt out as far as it will go then release it. The belt should return all the way to the retractor without sticking, gripping or stalling.
  • The retractor should lock if the webbing is pulled out suddenly.
  • The webbing should be securely attached to its end fittings displaying no stretching or pulled stitching.
  • The webbing should be flat throughout its entire length.
  • Look for plastic burn marks, frayed stitching and any signs of rippling.

Petroleum Marketers:

Most studies tend to associate driver fatigue with long hours on the road and tractor-trailer driving. But a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that driver fatigue could be a potential problem for local/short-haul/delivery drivers as well.

Although most local/short-haul/delivery drivers typically work during the daylight hours, have work breaks that interrupt driving, end their shifts at home and sleep in their own beds at night, driver fatigue is a very real issue. Drivers cited the following fatigue-related issues they face during the day: hard/physical workday, waiting to unload, irregular mealtimes, not enough sleep and lack of proper heating and/or air-conditioning in vehicles.

Based on the results of this study, researchers suggest that companies employing local/short-haul/delivery drivers consider the following recommendations:

  • Encourage drivers to monitor their levels of drowsiness and inattention and institute policies that allow drivers to take breaks for short naps without reprimand.
  • Encourage drivers to come to work well rested and train drivers on the hazards of operating heavy equipment when tired.
  • Improve the training of younger, inexperienced drivers and consider requiring all local/short-haul/delivery drivers to have special licenses to operate trucks (similar to class B licenses required for drivers of articulated trucks).
  • Improve driver selection and screenings to identify unsafe drivers before they are hired.
  • Implement initiatives similar to the “How’s My Driving?” program.
Critical Safety Issues For Local/Short-Haul/Delivery Drivers

In addition to driver fatigue, local/short-haul/delivery drivers interviewed for the FMCSA study also identified the following critical safety issues: problems caused by drivers of cars and pickup trucks, stress due to time pressure, inattention and problems caused by roadway/dock design.

According to the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration, driver fatigue accounts for about 100,000 accidents annually. These accidents are often more severe, partly because fatigued drivers frequently fail to brake before collisions happen.

So when you drive, watch for these signs of driver fatigue and rest when they occur:

  • Heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming
  • Misjudgment of traffic situations
  • Varying vehicle speeds for no apparent reason
  • Allowing your vehicle to drift to the road edge or over the centerline
  • Feeling cramped and fidgety
  • Continual yawning that cannot be prevented
  • Rash decisions due to impatience

Once fatigue has set in, rest is the only cure!


How important is a machine guard on a table saw? Just ask the student who recently suffered an injury because a broken guard had been removed from the saw in his shop classroom. “Unfortunately, we see situations like these all too often as we tour schools,” notes Laurie Hoskins, EMC loss control consultant. “Sometimes tools are missing machine guards because they have broken off. Other times, the guards have been removed to make it easier to use the tool.” Whichever the case, we encourage you to review the following safeguarding advice from EMC’s Loss Prevention Information Manual.

Up to 15 percent of all work injuries and 20 percent of disabling work injuries involve machines or some type of power equipment. Yet, one of the simplest, often least expensive and highly effective means of preventing an injury is proper machine safeguarding.

  • All guards, whether purchased or fabricated in the shop, should conform to ANSI standards and the appropriate state and federal OSHA codes.
  • Guards should be constructed of a substantial material that resists damage and corrosion.
  • Guards should be fastened securely to a sound foundation with fasteners that cannot be easily removed by an operator.
  • Purchase new equipment with manufacturer-recommended guards installed.
  • Establish routine inspection and maintenance procedures for guards.
  • Use plastic guards, where possible, to facilitate inspecting and viewing the operation.
  • Have all safeguards in place before operating a tool.
  • Allow only authorized personnel to remove or adjust guards.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 goes into effect on October 1, 2005. It requires school bus drivers to pass a written test and a skills test, although many drivers can be grandfathered in on the skills test. To grandfather the skills requirement, the driver must have had a CDL for at least two years with a passenger endorsement for the type of school bus they will be driving (class B or C). There are several disqualifying criminal and moving violations. This rule does not apply to small vehicles used as school buses — only buses with 16 passengers or more. Study materials for the written test should be available from your state’s Department of Transportation.

All tools, including hand tools, can be hazardous. The following checklist will help you plan for the safe use of hand tools in your classes.

  • Are hand tools such as chisels and punches, which develop mushroomed heads during use, reconditioned or replaced as necessary?
  • Are broken or fractured handles on hammers and similar equipment replaced promptly?
  • Are worn or bent wrenches replaced?
  • Are appropriate safety glasses, face shields, etc. used while using hand tools that might produce flying materials?
  • Are tool cutting edges kept sharp so the tool will move smoothly without binding or skipping?
  • Are tools stored in dry, secure locations where they won’t be tampered with?