Avoiding Unexpected Machine Start Ups
Lockout tagout (AKA: LOTO) refers to procedures designed to protect workers from the release of stored energy (electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, etc.) during the maintenance or servicing of a piece of equipment or machinery.
Failure to implement lockout tagout procedures is one of the top causes of work related injuries, especially in the manufacturing industry. For example, a worker who is clearing a jam may become injured when the machine starts up unexpectedly. Every type of manufacturing worker is at risk. As work injury lawyers, we see these injuries in all types of workers, including:
- food processing workers,
- steel workers,
- electronics workers,
- lumber workers, and
- chemical factory workers.
When a machine accident occurs, the injuries are often severe. Limbs are often crushed or amputated. In the most extreme cases, a worker who is caught in a machine can suffer fatal injuries.
The problem is that the number of work injuries due to improper lockout tagout procedures has remained steady over the past decade. Employers across the U.S. continue to violate OSHA standards related to LOTO. In fact, LOTO violations are one of the top 10 OSHA violations each year. Following LOTO procedures is time consuming, and employers are often concerned with productivity over worker safety. This is why LOTO violations are so common.
Top 3 Causes of Machine Accidents Related to Lockout Tagout Procedures
According to OSHA, there are 3 main causes of machine accidents related to LOCO:
- failure to implement proper lockout tagout procedures,
- failure to provide lockout tagout training, and
- equipment failures.
Work Injuries – Legal Rights After a Machine Accident
Because machine accidents routinely result in serious injuries, it is crucial for injured workers and their families to seek advice of a work accident lawyer. Doing so will help preserve legal rights to compensation, which is especially important when a worker becomes permanently disabled because of the injuries.
What most workers don’t know is that workers’ compensation benefits are not the only type of legal remedy available after a machine or equipment accident at work. In many instances, other parties can be held liable. For example, an equipment manufacturer, retailer or distributor may face liability for a defective product or a defective component part.
Employer Liability for a Work Accident Involving Machinery
In some cases, the employer may be liable, depending on the facts of the case. Most states limit liability of employers for work injuries. However, many states do allow lawsuits against employers for work injuries where there is evidence that the employer acted in a willful manner, or willfully disregarded the safety of its workers. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, for example, allow work accident lawsuits against employers where there is evidence that the employer committed fraudulent conduct, i.e., misled or lied to OSHA inspectors.
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