The basic rule of manufacturing maintenance safety seems to center on the basics of lockout/tag-out — essentially making sure the machine won't cycle on when someone is working on it.
So why are there still so many workplace injuries and even deaths related to ignoring the rules of lockout/tag-out? According to Steve Toloken's new reporting on workplace safety, Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors issued $798,000 in fines from 118 citations across 72 inspections for lockout/tag-out violations at plastics companies between October 2020 and September 2021. Add to that $707,000 in fines and 91 citations from 78 inspections for problems with machine guarding.
Yes, I'm aware that some workers violate the rules. They take shortcuts. They put themselves and others at risk. And of course, sometimes there are simply accidents that no one expected. But if your company culture lacks the focus on safety that instead encourages other people on the floor to look the other way when safety rules are broken, perhaps you need to take another look at your company culture. Failure to do carries a very big risk.
Just consider this phrase from Steve's story and do everything you can to not have your employees named in some future coverage: "Anita Irene Coester and Moses Kur were plastics industry employees in 2021 who had something in common: They showed up for a normal workday and were killed in accidents on the job."