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A Wrench in the Gear: Lockout/tagout in the food industry

Posted on by Jim Harris, Ph.D., P.E. ; Susan Afanuh, MA; Frank Renshaw, Ph.D., CIH, CSP; David L. Parker, MD, MPH; Theodore Braun, MBA; Thomas Cunningham, PhD

The food manufacturing industry includes animal slaughtering as well as the processing and packaging of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, grain, seafood, beverages, and bakery products. The industry employs nearly 1.5 million workers.1 Work in food manufacturing is typically fast-paced and workers can face exposure to hazards such as slips trips and falls, musculoskeletal disorders, and machine-related injuries.2

Although there has been improvement in recent years, workers in food manufacturing have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than workers in private industry as a whole. For example, in 2012, the injury and illness rate in food manufacturing was 5.4 per 100 workers compared with 3.4 per 100 workers for private industry overall.3 That same year, food manufacturers suffered 18,620 lost-time injuries and 41 fatalities. The estimated cost for those lost-time injuries was over $1.4 billion (direct and indirect costs, at an average $76,000 each).4

Many of the machine-related injuries are related to failure to use lockout/tagout (LO/TO) procedures. An examination of OSHA’s Accident Investigation database (using SIC codes 201-207) showed that from 2003-2013, 28 fatalities and 227 serious injuries (such as amputations) were related to lockout procedures in food manufacturing.5 The largest number of incidents occurred in meatpacking and poultry slaughtering and processing.5  In fact, violation of the lockout/tagout standard (1910.147) was the most frequently cited infraction of an OSHA standard during 2012‒2013 in food manufacturing with penalties totaling over $894,000.6

The NIOSH NORA Manufacturing Sector Council members want to help small food manufacturers with LO/TO, and through this blog we are seeking  input from our stakeholders to enhance our understanding of the issues surrounding LO/TO in the food and beverage processing industry.

The Pace Challenge

A robust lockout/tagout program that protects the safety and health of workers is an important part of machine maintenance. Machine injuries related to lockout/tagout often occur when an employee services or repairs a machine or tries to clear a jam but fails to de-energize the machine and lock out sources of energy.

Smaller businesses face the challenge of remaining competitive in the food and beverage processing industry, and we know most companies are struggling to keep up with a bustling pace and narrow profit margins.

Pace equals profit in this industry, but workers need to stay safe while maintaining their pace. The efficient work that keeps businesses viable and competitive requires well maintained machines and equipment.

Pace does not have to be a tradeoff for safety; optimal levels of both can be achieved. If something falls off the assembly line and a machine gets jammed, a quick solution may seem like a good option. Given the production pressures in this industry, workers may feel that managers would rather have them risk injury than stop production to properly apply LO/TO procedures.  A worker may simply try to clear the jam without taking the time to lock out sources of hazardous energy.  But when energy sources are not locked out, any unexpected startup of a machine or other equipment can result in amputations or death. Employers who ‘get it’ know that it is far more valuable to control hazardous energy with LO/TO procedures than to risk both the personal and financial loss that can result from machine-related injury. An injury, death, or even a fine from a violation can quickly nullify gains from increased work speed.

Save a life: Block that energy!

Follow OSHA requirements regarding de-energizing machines and locking out sources of energy.7 Some elements of a successful LO/TO program include:

  • Written procedures
  • Documentation of each source of energy
  • Locking and tagging devices
  • Verification of energy isolation
  • Proper locks at proper places (isolation points)
  • Training (including skills demonstration) in the primary language(s) of employees.
  • Auditing of work process

NIOSH recommends that any hazardous energy control program include both lockout and tagout procedures to ensure maximum protection. The NIOSH recommendations for lockout and tagout are described in the following documents:

Using Lockout and Tagout Procedures to Prevent Injury and Death during Machine Maintenance

Preventing Worker Deaths from Uncontrolled Release of Electrical, Mechanical, and Other Types of Hazardous Energy

Companies with established lockout programs have told us that having written procedures ahead of time allows for machine maintenance and service to proceed without delay. Share with us the type of lockout/tagout program you have in your business. What resources were used to implement the program that could help small business improve their practices? What works well about it? What has made it difficult to maintain the program? Sharing your experiences with LO/TO will help NIOSH and our partners better understand the issues so that we can provide the best guidance and resources to help save lives.

Jim Harris, Ph.D., P.E. ; Susan Afanuh, MA; Frank Renshaw, Ph.D., CIH, CSP; David L. Parker, MD, MPH; Theodore Braun, MBA; Thomas Cunningham, PhD

Dr. Harris is a Research Safety Engineer in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research.

Ms. Afanuh is  a Technical Information Specialist in the NIOSH Education and Information Division

Dr.  Renshaw  is the managing member  at Bayberry EHS Consulting, LLC and the National Occupational  Research Agenda (NORA) Manufacturing Sector Council Co-Chair.

David L. Parker, is a Senior Researcher at Park-Nicollet Health Systems and a member of the NORA Manufacturing Sector Council.

Mr. Braun is an Adjunct Professor at the Keene State College and  a member of the NORA Manufacturing Sector Council.

Dr. Cunningham is a behavioral scientist in the NIOSH Education and Information Division.

References

  1. BLS [2014]. Industries at a glance. Food manufacturing: NAICS code 311. http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag311.htm
  2. Safety+Health [2013]. Industry spotlight: food manufacturing. Safety+Health April:52.  http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/industry-spotlight-food-manufacturing
  3. BLS [2013]. Employer-related workplace injuries and illnesses – 2012. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf
  4. Harris S [2014]. It’s safer to eat the product than it is to work in many food manufacturing facilities. http://www.knowledgeatwork.com/workplacesafety/its-safer-to-eat-the-product-than-it-is-to-work-in-many-food-manufacturing-facilities
  5. OSHA [2014a]. Fatality and catastrophe investigation summaries. https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/accidentsearch.html
  6. OSHA [2014b]. Frequently cited OSHA standards. NAICS Code 311: food manufacturing. https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/citedstandard.naics?p_esize=&p_state=FEFederal&p_naics=311
  7. OSHA standards require the use of either lockout or tagout. OSHA requirements can be found at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9804.  OSHA provides a sample lockout procedure at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9805NIOSH recommends that any hazardous control program include lockout and tagout to ensure maximum protection. Also note that some State plans may have more stringent requirements than those found in 29 CFR 1910.147.

Other NIOSH Resources

The NIOSH Fatality and Assessment Control Evaluation (FACE) program investigates fatalities, identifies contributing factors, and makes recommendations for prevention. NIOSH FACE reports related to machines and manufacturing are listed here, and State FACE reports related to machines and manufacturing are listed here.

NIOSH developed a set of safety checklists for vocational schools; one checklist is available for LO/TO programs: School safety checklist: Control of Hazardous Energy

Other Resources

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

ElCosh Electrical Hazard Checklist (also available in Spanish)

Posted on by Jim Harris, Ph.D., P.E. ; Susan Afanuh, MA; Frank Renshaw, Ph.D., CIH, CSP; David L. Parker, MD, MPH; Theodore Braun, MBA; Thomas Cunningham, PhD

135 comments on “A Wrench in the Gear: Lockout/tagout in the food industry”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Health Safety should be prioritized by the manufacturers.

    __________________________________________________________________

    Baking Food and BBQ

    Working in any manufacturing warehouse is dangerous when you don’t follow lock-out and tag-out procedures because it’s so easy to get injured. I have seen many people try to rush a repair but fail to de-energize the power source and get injured.

    Before the work we’d better figure out how to lockout/tagout procedures. And also training to work safely.

    we can say this is an icon manufacturers. Cause every manufacturers have to concern about his safety first. Thanks for sharing a very informative article with us.
    I have a Graphics Designing Company although my company is slide different of this company but I follow this strategy.

    The FDA and OSHA must do a better job. I understand that resources are limited. It’s now just a matter of priorities. Thanks for a very informative blog post.

    This is crazy these guys are obviously slacking. The government really needs to work harder to keep people more safe. The last thing we need is more wounded people collecting disability

    Simple truth : Machines need maintenance for the safety of the workers and owner’s peace of mind.

    production company

    Excellent contents! It is really critical. Many people try to rush a repair but fail to de-energize the power source and get injured. Thanks for sharing it. I support it.

    This issue is worth a lot of concern, as number of food manufacturing units is huge. Injuries in such units are very probable requiring special attention. If you are owner of one such unit, then conduct survey to find the resin behind occurrence o f such incidences.

    For any manufacturer industry first priority is Safety. Some times less precaution mad big health issues. So we have to follow all government safety procedure for better result because every worker is important for us.

    Great post, i appreciate the effort and knowledge you are sharing with this post. Yes i agreed with your thought for any industry or manufacturing company, employee safety is most required.

    And in term of this safety precaution as you said, machine maintenance is required. Time to time check up your machine, keep maintenance for all instrument used into your company.

    Health and safety is extremely lax in some workplaces. It needs to be dealt with with a very high priority. I have come across some dodgy practices in themworkplace in my time.

    Great post. But you can learn more about the issues regarding electrical safety, and how to meet the requirements of key electrical safety standards.

    Great post, i appreciate the effort and knowledge you are sharing with this post. Yes i agreed with your thought for any industry or manufacturing company, employee safety is most required.

    And in term of this safety precaution as you said, machine maintenance is required. Time to time check up your machine, keep maintenance for all instrument used into your company.

    Really this is very critical issue and to be taken care off properly. Good piece on info shared here. Thanks to the author for sharing.

    Great post, i appreciate the effort and knowledge you are sharing with this post. Yes i agreed with your thought for any industry or manufacturing company, employee safety is most required.

    Awareness and proper training of workers will eliminate accidents on the job. Frequent reminders and signage at strategic spot within the workplace would help too.

    Augers are notorious for this with farming equipment, it’s no wonder meat packing is the most common as they use similar technology – plus factories usually push the employees too fast – time pressures over safety concerns

    Great article. I agree, it is so important to have written procedures. And as others have said, health and safety really needs to be taken more seriously in some industries.

    Good article, i agree with the opinion, we should not reliable with the machine cause machine didn’t have brain and sometime can failure. What should we do is combine machine and human works and organizing all activity in places works so will happen something we didn’t want.
    Regards

    Agree, we really need to be keeping on top of our machine maintenance to avoid incidents. It is a serious issue in some industries. Thanks for the post.

    Really this is very critical issue and to be taken care off properly. Good piece on info shared here. Thanks to the author for sharing.

    Safety should always come first especially in an industry such as this. More education is needed so injuries become less and less frequent.

    I agree, it is so important to have written procedures. Great and informative article. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Keep continuing…

    Time to time check up your machine, keep maintenance for all instrument used into your company. And in term of this safety precaution as you said, machine maintenance is required.

    Great tips. very well-written, keyword-oriented and incredibly useful. its really interesting to many readers. I really appreciate this, thanks

    News about companies with established lockout programs have told us that having written procedures ahead of time allows for machine maintenance and service to proceed without delay.

    this verry good content thx for sharing.. 😀
    Great post, i appreciate the effort and knowledge you are sharing with this post.
    amazing

    Safety and stuff training should be top priority when operating different machines. Of course it would take more time to train stuff but hey, it’s better than having someone injuring himself.

    Great post. This is disturbing though “The food manufacturing industry includes animal slaughtering as well as the processing and packaging of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, grain, seafood, beverages, and bakery products. The industry employs nearly 1.5 million workers. ”

    Dave

    Excellent contents! It is really critical. Many people try to rush a repair but fail to de-energize the power source and get injured. Thanks for sharing it. I support it.

    Thanks for the post. It is always a really good reminder to keep safe at work and if you are asked to do something unsafe at work, bring it to your managers or the HSE department’s attention.

    Hi,

    I have gone through your blog “A Wrench in the Gear: Lockout/tagout in the food industry” this is such a good topic. I really enjoyed a lot and the blog is really very interesting.

    Thanks for sharing information.I have seen for lot of tips related lockout tagout safety.These tips are really amazing. I appreciate it for sharing them.

    I work in manufacturing and all our machines are serviced by an outsourced local professional under contract. A small cost as opposed to an unfortunate accident.

    I don’t believe people working in the food manufacturing industries are more exposed to health hazards. How do you then compare them with people working in farms, road constructions, structure buildings, and so on…

    Thank you for your interest in our blog and for taking the time to submit a comment. Of course, our blog does not mean to imply that all facilities dedicated to food manufacturing are dangerous, but we based our Blog on the data from OSHA’s Accident Investigation database. Food manufacturing unfortunately leads among manufacturing industries (see 2nd paragraph of the Blog). We also looked at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for injuries and illness, and fatalities. There are fluctuations across years but manufacturing rates (the quantity of cases measured with respect to the total number of workers in that industry) are often among the highest, but total numbers are not; http://www.bls.gov/iif/#data). The leading cause of days away from work cases often is contact with objects (which includes failure to use Lockout-Tagout), with food manufacturing having a high rate. Now, regarding fatalities, manufacturing is not the industrial sector that leads in fatalities, but when it happens, again, the leading cause of death is contact with objects and equipment. You can see the breakdown at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0268.pdf). Our intent in pointing this out is to encourage all to take actions that ensure their safety and health.

    Safety and stuff training should be top priority when operating different machines. Of course it would take more time to train stuff but hey, it’s better than having someone injuring himself.

    The FDA and OSHA must do a better job. I understand that resources are limited. It’s now just a matter of priorities. Thanks for a very informative blog post.

    Nice Blog!! Great Post !! Like your Blog and your ideas and i think its benificial for us and i keep to visit your blog regularly because i got lot of information through you blog

    Interesting article post and enjoyed reading the post.
    The reference links on this web page are so good, this is a very nice information to share, would like to bookmark this content.
    Thanks again.

    Totally agreed….very informative article, safety of the employee is must to get an quality output weather it is a food industry or any other.

    great article…safety precautions are must in every industry especially in manufacturing industries, the energy sources should be managed and maintained properly. Thank you for the article.

    its a too much great article In fact its true energy sources should be managed and maintained properly. Thank you for sharing the article.

    I am really appreciate your article about A Wrench in the Gear: Lockout/tagout in the food industry. this is post it’s very educated and useful

    Regard’s
    Amy Winchester

    I like to read your blog, exciting to how you are writing about “A Wrench in the Gear” 😀
    Good luck, Niosh with your science blog!

    I like this article and read carefully. Manufacturing industry is good for economic development of the country but safety for human as well

    I agree, it is so important to have written procedures. Great and informative article. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Keep continuing with this great information.

    Food manufacturing workers need proper protection from injury and maltreatment. The bosses need to take responsibility for health and safety and stop making lots of money.

    Good article!safety precautions are must in every industry especially in manufacturing industries, the energy sources should be managed and maintained properly. Thank you for the article.

    Now, regarding fatalities, manufacturing is not the industrial sector that leads in fatalities, but when it happens, again, the leading cause of death is contact with objects and equipment.

    Meals production employees require correct safety through damage as well as maltreatment. The actual employers have to consider obligation with regard to safety and health and prevent producing a lot of money.

    I thinks all the safety precautions are always not enought.
    Maybe with standars like iso13485 all this thinks would be better.

    Nice blog, cheers.

    Very nice article! People should realize that precautions are almost the most important thing in all working areas. The workers should learn in free courses

    I like this blog. This is very excellent Article. You Made some Great points and I am thankful for your information!

    Really i am impressed to read this article. I think Food manufacturing workers need to more knowledge about using the machine.

    Basically, Food manufacturing workers are not so knowledgeable about using the machine and others related things. It is so bad luck for them .your post is so important for this.thanks a lot.

    Lovely topic you have discussed here…

    safety and the well-being of workers should be made a must and top priority. Nothing else is more important than human lives. I believe that well-taken care workers will put in their best and make more profits for companies. Manufacturing companies should consider safety as top priority. They have always missed out on this. Most manufacturing companies are very self,-centred. This is bad. Lots of workers in the industry have had one injury or the other. I believe that machines should be in top conditions before workers are allowed to use them. Also, machines should be checked and rechecked, periodically. This is good for workers safety.
    Thanks for this powerful topic.

    Lockout & tagout procedures are certainly key in keeping folks on the job in the food processing industry safe.

    Thanks,

    Eli

    An upgrade in manufacturing equipment could certainly speed up the process. Especially for food manufacturers. A more advanced and automatic equipment could be its solution to the hygiene problem. And at the same time would reduce risk of injury of labor workers. It needs a huge investment though.

    Nice blog..

    Thank you for sharing such a informative article..

    According to me the safety of the workers working in a company is most important thing and for this the owner of the company must keep eye on the maintenance of the machines. I am owner of a food packaging company and I always take care of my employees.

    Following a long period of time working in the oil and gas industry I can say that most of the time LOTO (lock out tag out) procedures do work. However there are times when over zealous permit authorities take the principle to the extreme and the application then hinders the smooth operation of the plant. A good management system with more than one responsible party can fix this problem.

    I work in manufacturing and all our machines are serviced by an outsourced local professional under contract. A small cost as opposed to an unfortunate accident.

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