Recent Amputation Highlights Importance of LOTO

Earlier this month, Cal/OSHA reported a construction site accident involving concrete pouring equipment that robbed a worker of his leg. Two workers were standing on top of a hopper, breaking off dried concrete as part of cleaning and maintenance. One slipped and fell into the machine, and his leg became trapped in a churning metal auger. The emergency shutoff switch was activated, but it was already too late. During his 12 day stay in the hospital, the worker’s leg had to be removed all the way up to the hip.

Smarter Choices at Any Stage Would Have Made a Difference

Like many serious workplace injuries, this horrific incident was completely preventable. What might have been done differently? According to OSHA investigators:

  • First, the equipment should have been fitted with a guard so that workers could not come into contact with potentially dangerous parts.
  • Second, the two employees should have received safety training that covered hazard identification and proper procedures for cleaning and maintenance activities. The knowledge gained in training would have made it immediately obvious to them that the task they had been assigned was extremely dangerous.
  • Third, the company should have had lockout/tagout protocols in place. This accident never would have happened if the machine had been shut off, de-energized, locked out to protect against accidental restart, and had all moving parts blocked.

What Happens Now?

The owner of the equipment was cited and fined more than $7,000 for failing to equip the machinery with a guard. The construction firm that leased the equipment received eight citations and a fine of over $90,000 for a variety of serious violations. Sadly, the victim of this accident faces a lengthy recovery and will not be able to return to his former profession.

Keep Workers Safe on the Job

In the public utility sector, concrete pouring can be part of the process of building a wastewater treatment facility. Many other types of heavy equipment are used to maintain sanitation systems. When any project involving machinery is rushed, there’s a higher than normal risk of injury. What might seem like a time-saving activity (cleaning and maintaining equipment while it is still running) can be a fatal mistake.

Are your employees up to speed with your company’s LOTO procedures? Has your organization purchased or leased any new equipment or machinery since the last LOTO training? DKF Solutions can help you update your training and keep employees safe.