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Workplace safety: OSHA says surprise startups kill 120 every year

Employers in Missouri and other states are responsible for the health and safety of employees. Every year, thousands of workers suffer injuries, and over 120 lose their lives from injuries when equipment activates unexpectedly in environments where workplace safety is disregarded. Proper control of hazardous energy can prevent these injuries and deaths.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says hazardous energy must be locked and tagged out on all equipment that uses energy sources to operate whenever workers are exposed to the hazards each machine poses. Energy sources include electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, pneumatic, thermal, chemical and more. Unanticipated activation can cause electrocution, burns, lacerations and cuts. Furthermore, fractured bones, amputated limbs and crushed body parts can follow.

Installation of lockout and tagout devices will avoid startups while cleaning and maintenance of equipment take place. Locking and tagging can prevent activation during those times, but in many cases, workers remove safeguards to clean equipment or perform maintenance. It is imperative that employees understand the purpose of these devices and receive training in the procedures for effective use of it. Company owners must comply with related safety regulations and review energy control procedures and programs at least once a year.

Too many lives and limbs are lost because company owners cut corners to save money and pay no attention to workplace safety. Workers who suffer severe injuries in environments where workplace safety is not prioritized can seek financial assistance through the benefits offered by the Missouri workers' compensation insurance system. The surviving families of those who die in such circumstances may claim death benefits. Experienced workers' compensation attorneys are there to navigate claims for families while they grieve their losses or while injured victims recover.

Source: safety.blr.com, "Important reminder about controlling hazardous energy", Dec. 29, 2016

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