For years, the basic rule in electrical safety has been to have a solid Lockout/Tag Out program. While this is a great method to control energy and works fairly well when properly implemented, it is also one of the most violated and easily manipulated standards in the workplace. The result is multiple deaths annually, and fines against employers that can substantially exceed $100,000.
Think about it: How often do electrical or maintenance workers fail to “control all energy sources” as described in the standard? How often do workers fail to follow written procedures because they intend to simply take a measurement or tighten a loose connection? The short answer is often and daily.
Just how often is plainly evident in any list of OSHA compliance citations. A simple search of OSHA’s website for “lockout citations” resulted in 15 pages of examples (see those search results for yourself here: http://alturl.com/95mcu). This in spite of the fact that lockout programs are supposedly a well understood – and perhaps the most basic of – electrical safety procedures. Why all the citations? Because facility managers are not enforcing, auditing or controlling the process. They have all the paper in place, but oftentimes without the benefit of training or enforcement. Lock Out programs work only when enforcement and zero tolerance are the norm rather than the exception.
So, here is another tough question for facility managers: Is it your policy that employees risk termination if Lock Out procedures are not followed to the letter? Do you enforce this policy? Do your employees believe you mean it? Because lives depend on it, this should become one of your organization’s highest priorities.
There are a couple of sure-fire ways to make sure you are (or aren’t) in full compliance: a) Wait until you have an incident; or b) Wait until you fail an OSHA compliance inspection. The better way is to call Mitchell & Lindsey before either a or b occur, and let us help you evaluate your safety program. It’s what we do.