Failure to Use Proper Lockout/Tagout Procedures


In July the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited a Delaware company for exposing employees to workplace hazards after an employee suffered an amputation on a punch press that was improperly guarded.

In late 2017 the employee reached into the machine, used to cut industrial materials, and accidentally stepped on a lever, starting the machine. The machine came down on the workers’ hand, amputating three fingers.

OSHA inspected the company’s facility after learning of the accident, and found systemic failures in properly securing power sources. Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company faces more than $146,000 in possible fines for not only failing to use proper lockout/tagout procedures, but also failing to report this incident and similar accidents to OSHA.

Lockout/tagout procedures prevent machines from engaging accidentally. According to OSHA estimates, consistent and proper use of Lockout/tagout  procedures may prevent upwards of 50,000 injuries and 120 worker deaths every year.

What is lockout/tagout?

Lockout/tagout is a safety action that ensures sources of energy and dangerous machinery are properly disengaged when not in use, or when they are being serviced. When these machines are activated, or power sources are engaged before lockout/tagout, the person servicing or maintaining it is at risk of a catastrophic injury.

There are different types of energy sources that should be locked out during maintenance or servicing, such as chemical, electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, and pneumatic, among others.

Lockout/tagout generally involves two steps:

  1. A lock is secured to the machinery’s power source, preventing it from engaging.
  2. A tag is attached to the machinery, cautioning workers not to use it.

To help employers protect workers from the risk of injuries from hazardous energy sources, OSHA requires them to adhere to a federal safety standard included in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations.

The code requires employers to:

  • Develop, document, implement, and enforce energy control procedures
  • Use durable, standardized lockout/tagout devices for the machinery they are designed for
  • Ensure lockout/tagout devices identify users
  • Create a policy that only permits the employee who installed a lockout/tagout device to remove it
  • Comply with additional OSHA standards for energy control
  • Train employees on proper lockout/tagout procedures
  • Inspect energy control procedures every year

Wilmington Fibre Specialty Company had 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to contest the findings, request a conference with a local OSHA director, or comply with the penalties.

Milford Work Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Fight for Compensation for Injured Workers

Delaware employers must provide benefits to workers who have been injured on the job due to improper lockout/tagout procedures or any other type of workplace accident. If you have been injured at work, a Milford work injury lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow works to ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. Your work injury lawyer may also pursue compensation from a third-party who contributed to your injury. To schedule a free initial consultation, complete our online contact from or call (302) 422-6705 to get your case moving today.

With offices in Bear, Wilmington, and Milford, we serve clients in Elsmere and Seaford and throughout Delaware.


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