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How employers can have better lockout procedures

Minnesota employers may benefit from reviewing ways they can improve their lockout practices. Safety equipment is not only required at the work site but can also go a long way towards protecting employees from hazards such as trips, slips and falls, contamination and loud noises.

By implementing simple training and procedures regarding the use of lockout equipment according to OSHA regulations, employers can ensure that employees know how to correctly and safely open and close lockout energy-isolating devices on certain machines. It is also a good idea to attach the procedures in printed form on each machine or in openly displayed binders. Otherwise, employees may resort to unsafe practices during machinery shut down.

There are additional ways employers can ensure their workers are adhering to proper lockout practices. First, the employer could allocate a lockout program in which a mentor will guide employees who perform maintenance work on the machines. The individual will make sure co-workers are correctly adhering to OSHA policies and will also train new employees on how to accurately follow the machine's lockout procedures. In addition, during yearly inspections or audits, the mentor can validate that employees have been properly following the lockout process.

Another way employers can improve their lockout program is to keep safety equipment where employees can easily access it. In fact, when safety equipment is hard to get to, or when employees do not have the time to locate the device because it is mixed in with other devices, they often bypass using the equipment altogether.

While some occupations have more risks than others, there is no job that is completely free from danger. Most employers are required to provide workers' compensation benefits for employees who suffer workplace injuries or illnesses. An attorney may be of assistance to employees who are having difficulty obtaining the benefits they are entitled to.

Source: EHS Today, "Simple Ways to Improve Your Facility Lockout Practices", Todd Grover, Oct. 13, 2015

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