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Energy control crucial to prevent manufacturing accidents

One of the most significant threats to the safety of employees in the Illinois manufacturing industry is unexpected energizing of equipment during servicing, cleaning or maintenance procedures. Without adequate lockout/tagout protocols, manufacturing accidents can cause catastrophic injuries that might lead to amputation or death. If machines are not isolated from energy sources, unanticipated startup or stored energy release can have devastating consequences.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict guidelines by which employers must establish sustainable lockout/tagout programs. A written document must explain the program's elements in a way that employees can understand. Annual reviews are crucial to ensure the program remains relevant and continues to protect workers. It is essential to identify and mark switches, valves, plugs and breakers with permanent tags or labels.

To ensure sustainability of the plan, employee training and scheduled inspections are vital. OSHA requires training of those workers who are authorized to perform lockout/tagout procedures as well as the workers who perform the repairs or maintenance. In addition, the rest of the workforce must learn the procedures to prevent accidental re-energizing of equipment during maintenance.

Although compliance with lockout/tagout requirements can limit manufacturing accidents, the slightest mistake can have severe consequences. Victims of on-the-job injuries are typically eligible for financial assistance through the state-regulated insurance carried by their employers. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the Illinois workers' compensation insurance program can help with the claims process to obtain benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages and any other applicable compensation.

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