We all understand risk. We take a risk each day we get into the driver’s seat of our car. We take a risk when we start up the mower to cut the grass. However, we fasten our safety belt and put the phone down when we get into the car; we wear durable shoes and eye protection when we mow. This allows one to, at least, help minimize the risk involved. The same reality exists in the food and dairy industry workplace, and a key to preventing employee injury in these facilities is to have a standardized lock-out/tag-out program.
“Lock-out” and “Tag-Out” (LOTO) programs, for those that may not know, are programs to prevent unexpected startups of machinery and/or the release of hazardous energies during day-to-day operations and maintenance. This is done with easy-to-see locks and/or tags that prevent the use of specific machines and operations. The simple ability to alert all personnel to work being done and to indicate parts of an operation that need to remain untouched is cited as preventing “an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year”.
One only has to do a quick search in general news and trade publications to see that the system is far from universally implemented. Companies continue to draw undesirable headlines discussing steep fines, safety violations, and the loss of life and limb for workers in these environments. Some of these headlines are due to outright negligence; they can also be the result of a lack of proper awareness and training.
For smaller operations and large-scale operations alike, OSHA provides a great deal of information on LOTO programs, procedures, and requirements. To see a basic example plan, click here. Greater awareness of good manufacturing practices like an effective lockout program can do a lot to reduce the tragic numbers listed above, as well as help companies avoid steep fines, workman’s comp issues, and many other concerns.
Nelson-Jameson is committed to helping you take on LOTO issues: from starting a program up, all the way to improving already existent LOTO initiatives. For more information on LOTO contact Carol Blakey, Product Manager – Safety & Personnel at
See our line of Lockout & Tagout products here.