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May 2016

Tame the Beast Machine with Lockout/Tagout

   LaRochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle

The beast that is that cold, heartless machine with gnashing teeth, clamping jaws, and slashing claws has no respect for the hand that feeds. Poised and ready to pounce in an instant, its hardened steel mouth can tear savagely through soft tissue and crush bone into fragments. Clearly, its ferocity deserves the utmost respect on the part of the “trainer”.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), compliance with their lockout/tagout (LOTO) standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries per year. Additionally, the OSHA fact sheet on lockout/tagout states that workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

In order to protect employees, employers need to institute these most critical requirements of the LOTO standard:

  • Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.
  • Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out and implement an effective tagout program for machinery and equipment that are not capable of being locked out.
  • Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
  • Provide effective training for affected, authorized, and other employees. The fact sheet states the training must cover at least three areas: aspects of the employer’s energy control program, elements of the energy control procedure relevant to the employee’s duties or assignment, and the various requirements of the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout.
  • Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.

Complacency has no place in the realm of the beast machine. Achieving control over its menacing power requires full attention to effective guarding, proper training and work instruction, and monitoring compliance with adherence to machine specific energy control procedures.

Enter the MEMIC Safety Director resource library without trepidation to access machine guarding and lockout/tagout resources.

Fall Protection and Prevention; What You Need To Know

Jayson-HerbertPosted by Jayson Hebert 

Year after year, fall protection standards are some of the most frequently cited OSHA regulations.  Additionally, falls continue to be one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities overall, and the leading cause of death in construction.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 worker fatalities occurred in 2014 with fall, slip, and trip related fatalities increasing by 10%, driven largely by an increase in falls to a lower level. 

2014 Fatal Occupational Injured by Major Event


In order to ensure that your workers are adequately protected from falling, consider conducting a workplace fall hazard assessment to review the following items:

  • Which of your employees in your workplace are exposed to falls?
  • Are all tasks or work areas with fall hazards identified?
  • Is training formal and documented?
  • Who is your competent person?
  • Does your fall protection program include a rescue plan?

It is important for employers to understand the hierarchy of controls as it applies to protecting their workforce and when workers must be protected from falling.  The limitations and components of fall prevention programs and fall arrest systems must be understood to provide adequate protections and not just a false sense of security.  For additional information regarding Fall Protection requirements reference the OSHA standards, 29 CFR 1926.501 for Construction and 29 CFR 1910.23-.30,for General Industry.    

If you want to learn more about how to protect your workers, MEMIC will be hosting a live webinar at 10:00am EDT on Thursday, May 26, 2016. This one-hour presentation is free for all MEMIC policy holders; click here to register.


The Workplace Is Dynamic, Don't Be Left Sitting Still

BrownPosted by Allan M Brown, LPT, MEMIC Chief Ergonomist

Over the past 50 years there has been a shift from active to more sedentary job tasks with a steady decline in energy expenditure at work as sedentary occupations have increased from 50% to 80% of all work. The negative impact of this change is slowly making its way into our daily lives. Instead of aches and pains from heavy lifting and manual work, our morbidity is increasing because of inactivity.

Unfortunately, from a research perspective this is old news. A landmark study completed in 1953 compared coronary heart disease of conductors and drivers of double-decker buses. The drivers spent almost the whole day seated and driving while the conductors were consistently on their feet moving up and down the bus steps. The most sedentary of the bus drivers had double the risk of coronary heart disease compared to the most active conductors. As far back as the 1600’s aches and pains from clerks and cobblers constantly sitting were documented by the Italian physician Bernardo Ramazzini, in his book De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Disease of Workers).

The role of getting up and moving around plays a huge role in our overall wellness. This non‐exercise activity of moving around at work and home is being greatly reduced in our daily routines because of technology and sedentary jobs. Research shows our bodies are changing because of a decrease in movement throughout the day - our risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease appear to be on the rise because of our sedentary work habits and life styles.

As this perfect storm brews, employers are scrambling to find solutions to reduce their exposure to declining health in the work place. A plethora of products and information has hit the market. Sit/stand work stations, ball chairs, treadmill desks, personal activity trackers, standing apps, and “sitting is the new smoking” are the things we hear and see in the news. As an employer it is hard to figure out what is credible and actually has a benefit.

This new awareness of sit/stand workstations is promising but there needs to be a larger strategy to reduce sedentary behavior in the workplace. Standing is just as static as sitting. But it is the ability to change position that creates the opportunity for wellness at the desk. Dr. Jack Dennerlein, PhD. Professor, Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says we need to look beyond the office physical plan to a much broader approach addressing policies, programs, and practices to combat the sedentary workplace.

Our challenge as employers is to educate our employees and make them aware of these trends and separate the marketing chaff from the substantive solutions. In the long run, transitioning a sedentary office to an active, dynamic work environment should be the goal. Current research is helping change the attitude of sitting and sedentary work. For an employer the commitment to change is an investment with the goal of a positive return. For the employee the change will improve their health and quality (and quantity) of life.

For more information related to ergonomics in the workplace, check out previous Safety Net posts by searching “ergonomics” or “sit stand”. OSHA provides a Computer Workstations eTool with helpful guidelines for office setup, and MEMIC policyholders can also access a wealth of information including professional workstation evaluations within the MEMIC Safety Director.

(Thanks to all our readers who nominated MEMIC Safety Net as one of the best blogs in the field of workers' comp, we are now ranked as one of the top two safety/prevention blogs!)

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