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Another Reminder: The Importance of Lockout/Tagout

Large OSHA fine levied for violations of conveyor safety

Safety Inquiry

Conveyor order picking

We talk safety a lot,  mainly because the environment we work in, and the customers we work with use equipment like forklifts and conveyors in areas where interaction with people is unavoidable. We believe the first responsibility we have to our customers, and the first responsibility our customers have to themselves, is safety. Many of the wonderful benefits of material handling equipment comes with the risk of injury. It’s powerful machinery, and people must pick from it, walk near, it or otherwise interact with it.

In particular with conveyor equipment, the risks of injuries are at a peak when improper lockout/tagout procedures are used during maintenance or repairs. This happened recently at a plant after a worker’s hand was severed by an unguarded conveyor belt. OSHA recommended a fine of $147,000 for failure to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures and to lock out equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of equipment and exposure to amputation hazard. That will be the least of the monetary costs, once this incident  has run its course.

The reality for companies running conveyors is that lockout/tagout processes should be trained, retrained, and constantly reinforced. These types of tragedies aren’t inevitable.

The pertinent standard, per 1926.555(a)(7) is:

“Conveyors shall be locked out or otherwise rendered inoperable, and tagged out with a “Do Not Operate” tag during repairs and when operation is hazardous to employees performing maintenance work.”

Recommended links:

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Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.

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