The Lockout/Tagout rules, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published and enforced, are among the most violated and misunderstood by Pennsylvania employers. LOTO standards are designed to protect employees who service and maintain machinery. They apply to any activity during which an employee is required to bypass or remove a safety device. These rules also apply when an employee has to reach into or place any part of his or her body into a machine where materials are processed.
Different OSHA standards apply to employees who operate the machines but don’t maintain or service them. OSHA machine guard regulations require that employers install appropriate guards to protect employees who work on them. LOTO rules and machine guard standards are complementary, covering employees both during normal operations and machine servicing. Technically, OSHA cannot claim that the same conduct violated both sets of standards at once.
Employees who maintain and service industrial machinery are at risk of death or serious injury if hazardous energy is not subjected to the proper controls. The most common injuries to these employees are lacerations, amputations, burns, crushing incidents, electrocutions and struck-by accidents. OSHA reports that 3 million employees routinely service equipment, including electricians, machine operators and craft workers. Those who are injured due to hazardous energy exposure miss 24 workdays, on average, after the injury.
Employers in Pennsylvania are obligated to provide safe environments for their employees. Workers who are injured on the job may be entitled to recover compensation from the workers’ comp system. Claimants need not demonstrate negligence or wrongdoing on the part of their employers to have valid claims in most cases. An attorney who has experience with handling workers’ compensation cases might be able to help someone by collecting evidence in support of his or her claim or communicating with government officials on his or her behalf.