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Improving lockout practices for Minnesota workers

Minnesota employers invest a significant amount of time in improving workplace safety, but some programs fail to prevent injury even with basic lockout equipment. Proper management is essential when it comes to ensuring safe lockout procedures. Engagement is one of the most crucial elements of any lockout program, and it begins with assigning a go-to person for one or several machines. This go-to person is responsible for observing and providing guidance for employees who are unfamiliar with a machine.

Another important lockout procedure is to keep safety equipment nearby at all times. This is essential when it comes to helping employees control machines within close range of danger zones. It is also important to determine which equipment is needed to secure energy isolation points and gauge whether local disconnects can be managed through reasonable methods.

The 15-second rule is a crucial component to any lockout safety strategy and it states that if a worker has to walk more than 15 seconds to reach lockout equipment, he or she is less likely to use it. While this amount of time may not seem significant, having lockout equipment in close proximity to machinery prevents employees from cutting corners when it comes to safety. Companies with effective lockout programs and low accident rates place an emphasis on lockout mentor programs as well as accessible equipment.

Despite all precautions that have been taken, workplace accidents will unfortunately continue to be a common occurrence. An employee who is injured in one may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, which can include the payment of medical expenses as well as a portion of lost wages. An attorney can often be of assistance to a injured worker with the preparation and filing of the claim.

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

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