November-December 2020

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34 PalletCentral • November-December 2020 I n a series of three 2020 decisions, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) emphasized that a violation of the machine guarding requirement of OSHA's Lockout Tagout (LOTO) standard requires OSHA to prove that employee access and exposure to the moving part of other hazards is not just possible but "reasonably predictable." In all three cases, an employee suffered an injury from contacting moving machine parts. The Commission's decisions emphasize that the fact of an injury did not prove that the standard was violated. An employee's exposure to the hazard must be reasonably predictable in normal operations. In Aerospace Testing Alliance, (OSHRC, 9/21/2020), an employee was operating a shearing machine at a sheet metal shop. The machine had pistons, each with a guard to prevent an operator from putting his or her hand under the piston, to hold the metal sheet in place during cutting. The injury occurred when an operator removed his glove to slide his finger under the guard and placed his fingers under one of the pistons during the machine's operation. At the same time, he inadvertently pressed the shear's foot pedal, causing the piston to lower and crush the tip of his finger. In Wayne Farms, (OSHRC, 9/22/2020), an employee lifted a grate and reached inside a hopper of a breading machine to dislodge flour from the side of the hopper. As he did so, paddles at the bottom of the hopper activated and caught his smock, pulling his arm and hand into the mechanism. The evidence at the hearing showed that employees were not required or allowed by the company's safety procedures to lift the grate and put their hands inside the hopper, and on previous occasions where the employee had attempted to manually clean the hopper, he had been told not to do so anymore. The hopper was automatically cleaned out at the end of each day and that "if flour was present on the inside of the hopper [during a work shift], it could be knocked off by striking the outside of the machine." In the third case, Dover High Performance Plastics, (OSHRC, 9/25/2020), a lathe operator at a plastics parts manufacturer was injured when he reached into a milling machine to adjust a part being milled. The machine was programmed to start and stop automatically, with a limited amount of time between cycles. The operator did not withdraw his hand before the next cycle began and the cutting tool cut his hand. After the accident, the lathe was reprogrammed to require that operators manually initiate the next cycle. All three employers were cited for violations of 1910.212 (a)(1), which states in relevant part, "One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks." This is one of OSHA's "Top 10" most cited standards for general industry and is also the most commonly cited standard in the pallet industry. In 2018, OSHA launched a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) in Region V (applicable to worksites in Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin), targeting "employers engaged in the manufacturing of wooden pallets" (NAICS 321920), and the REP is scheduled to run through Sept. 30, 2023. There are also National Emphasis Programs in place, applicable in all states, focusing on Amputation Prevention and Lockout/Tagout. New decisions impact OSHA enforcement on LOTO & Machine Guarding meant to keep employees safer. By Adele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP and Gary Visscher, Esq, Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC OSHA NEW LOTO RULES

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