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Lockout procedures for machines that cannot be switched off

When dangerous machinery requires cleaning, maintenance or repair, New York employers rely on lockout procedures to ensure that power is cut off and workers are protected, but there are situations that make it impractical to shut down machinery completely. The machine in question may be required to maintain safety in the workplace, or it may be necessary to keep it running until it has completed its task.

OSHA regulations require employers to develop lockout protocols that include specific step-by-step shutdown procedures for most machines and provide training for the workers who are tasked with implementing these policies. Theses regulations are designed to prevent workplace injuries caused by machines unexpectedly starting up while they are being cleaned or repaired. The regulations also ensure that residual stored energy is drained from idle machinery before work commences.

When the nature of a machine or the tasks that it performs makes a full shutdown impractical, every step of its lockout procedure should be assessed individually to identify possible safety issues. These efforts generally involve identifying the various tasks involved and determining what would happen if something were to go wrong. Maintenance, repair and cleaning staff can then be given additional training to help them understand and prepare for these dangers.

Accidents happen, and even the most detailed lockout policies and comprehensive employee training programs are unable to protect all workers all of the time. When workplace accidents or injuries are caused by employees not following safety protocols or taking shortcuts, those injured may still qualify for workers' compensation benefits to help them to cope until they are able to rejoin the workforce. However, the application process can be challenging for injured workers, and attorneys with experience in this area may provide them with guidance at each stage.

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