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New Jersey company faces $153,900 in OSHA fines

In the abstract world of physics, energy can be described as being potential or kinetic. Potential energy is just that, the stored energy that is potential in a device. A weight suspended in the air, a spring under tension, a stick of explosive or a capacitor all contain potential energy. When that energy is released, there can be abrupt movement, which if a worker is in the wrong place at the wrong time, can severely injure or kill them.

A New Jersey company received proposed penalties of $153,900 after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection found numerous health and safety violations at their East Orange concrete plant. The most dangerous violation was deemed by OSHA to be willful, meaning it was intentional, in disregard for the law, or was indifferent to worker's safety. 

The willful violation involved the company failing to have an "established lockout/tagout program." Such a program is designed to prevent worker industrial accidents caused by inadvertent machine start-ups and release of energy.

If you work on servicing equipment, you may find lockout/tagout procedures to be tedious, but you also understand they prevent someone from inadvertently starting machinery, equipment or returning live current to electrical systems that are being worked on, and that your life may depend on procedures being strictly followed.

The company also had 16 serious violations that covered a range of safety issues, from confined spaces, lack of a respiratory protection program and employee training in connection with many of the safety violations.

Millions of workers service equipment on daily basis, and proper establishment of a lockout/tagout program is essential to their safety.

Not only must they be trained on these procedures, but also anyone who might use the equipment must know what a lockout/tagout means, to prevent their attempting to circumvent the process and cause injuries to the workers engaged in servicing the equipment.

Source: Safety.blr.com, "Avoid six-figure OSHA fines with effective lockout/tagout procedures," October 25, 2013

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