Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

How can LOTO compliance prevent workplace injuries?

California workers in manufacturing or other industrial facilities are likely all aware of the fact that lockout/tagout devices are required on machinery and equipment. But what is LOTO and how can it prevent workplace injuries? It involves the control of hazardous energy and protocols to disable equipment and machinery while maintenance servicing and cleaning take place.

LOTO involves two procedures; the first is the lockout process that uses a device to de-energize machines and prevent movement of its parts by isolating them from the source of power. The second step is adding a tagout device that shows all workers that they are prohibited from operating a tagged machine. Strict compliance with LOTO regulations can prevent incidents in which workers are pulled into machines and lose body parts or their lives.

Safety authorities say 113 amputation injuries, and nine fatalities occurred in California through 2005 and 2006. They say compliance with LOTO regulations nationwide can prevent about 120 deaths and an estimated 50,000 injuries in which hands, fingers and arms are lost, or body parts are crushed each year. Proper planning, and thinking through the energy control steps before starting maintenance or cleaning of machinery can prevent these catastrophic injuries.

Losing limbs or having body parts crushed are some of the most traumatic workplace injuries workers can suffer. Fortunately, the California workers' compensation insurance system offers benefits that cover not only medical expenses but also wage-replacement for temporary or permanent disabilities. Moreover, an experienced attorney can assist victims in obtaining supplemental job displacement benefits. These nontransferable vouchers can be used for vocational rehabilitation, which will equip disabled workers with new skills.

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