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Lockout Tagout – The Impact of Your Decisions at Workplace

dateJune 06, 2023

We take ample of decisions almost every day, some decisions are personal and affect us directly, whereas some includes the surrounding we are living in. Taking the right decision is imperative in all life situations, especially at work; because now it isn’t about your personal loss or gain. In fact, the decisions you make or the choices you stand for, will in turn, effect the organization as a whole.

Being able to make effective decisions at workplace can help you become a better leader, because your prompt actions will always provide benefit to the company as it saves life, time & resources, improves productivity, prevent mistakes and most importantly, encourages and maintain confidence in the employees that they are working in a safe workplace.

Imagine, how much wrong can one bad decision do to an individual and also, to the world. You might have worked really hard with your team, and only when everything was going just the way you planned, you hear a bang! One wrong decision leading to an incident, and everyone is asking who the culprit is?

Coca-Cola quoted, “It was easy to become the top soft-drink brand in the world but staying there is the hardest thing.” Your decisions matter! Especially when you are at the leadership level and whatever gets communicated through you, will affect the safety of your employees and your organization.

Here we explain why it’s important to know how to make good choices, the impact that your decisions make to the safety of your employees and how you can improve your decision-making with correct Lockout Tagout implementation.

Why is decision making a crucial part at work?

Making decisions is the core part of every work. Whether you are a leader or not, you still have to make big or small decisions in life, almost every day. The better you are at making decisions, the better will be the position of the company in the market. And when it comes to making critical decisions, like safety at workplace, and machines that are in use; your responsibility is not confined to only the productivity and success of the company, you stand accountable for the lives of the workers as well as the family that will be affected by any wrong decision taken by you as a leader, supervisor or as an authorised personnel. Therefore, think before you act!

The most rigorous and detailed regulations, policies, standards, or codes do little to safeguard workers unless there is a strong commitment to safety in a company. This commitment must come from Top Management and be embraced by every manager down to the line supervisors and lead persons. Suppose safety does not appear to have a high priority among management. In that case, workers will see little reason to comply with safety measures that in some case, can be time-consuming, inconvenient or difficult.

Here are some of the key factors that need to be kept in mind, while safety decisions are made: 

The accomplishment of safety goals - “LOTO SYSTEM” Implementation:

The ideal goal of any safety program is to eliminate all accidents in the workplace. To establish the safest possible working environment, where every individual can work with confidence and trust, it is essential first to build a culture that promotes the values of workers’ safety both in words and in actions.

The OSHA standard, Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147 covers the servicing of machines & equipment in which the unexpected energization of machines and equipment or the release of stored energy could cause injury to employees.

The LOTO Standard prevents approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year, yet accidents related to the release of Hazardous Energies still continue to occur. More than half of these fatalities occurred when workers were carrying out service or maintenance related activities. According to statistics for the fiscal year 2021, Lockout Tagout is No. 6 most-cited OSHA violations in general industry, and No. 1 most cited violation in the manufacturing industry.

Therefore, lockout Tagout implementation should be the priority for every company when it comes to workplace safety decisions taken by the management at every level.

Building a safety culture - A culture rich in LOTO safety:

Safety is a commitment, and it is obligatory for every company to support this commitment with action. Every company must work to create an environment that supports safety culture and this is possible only when, the directors and decision-makers of the company are concerned. LOTO is mainly a manual process that depends largely on administrative controls (procedures and training) for the proper implementation of Lockout Tagout procedures. The effectiveness of the LOTO program depends upon how consistently they are used. Making Lockout Tagout procedure, a culture at every industry, will help eliminate machine hazards and risks at sites.

Communication is the key - No decision should go undelivered:

The more information a person has about the work they are supposed to be doing, the better he or she performs. A lot of Lockout Tagout accidents have taken place where one employee remains uninformed about the status of the work or the machine he is working on. It becomes the duty of the supervisor to inform each employee about every single instruction that needs to be communicated. Also, the decision-makers or top-management is accountable for the same.

A recent accident also stated in LOTO Case Studies, about a Worker died while changing blades on a cutting machine at site. As informed, the worker was assigned the task of changing the blades of the machine, before it could be started again. Another worker who wasn’t aware of the maintenance task going on accidentally hit the wrong switch and powered on the machine. In no time, he realised his mistake when, he heard a scream from behind. He then rushed to switch off the running machine. By then, the 35-year-old employee was killed instantly.

Such incidences happen due to lack of communication amongst the supervisor and the employees.

Consider all pros and Cons - Test-Try-Verify:

Considering both opportunities and obstacles that can arise from a decision that you have taken, it can help you feel more secure and prepared the next time you take one.

Not verifying whether the equipment is properly locked or not, even after placing the Lock, will be of no benefit. Proper LOTO procedure involves LOTOTO-Lockout, Try-out, Test-out!  

When you feel that working on a particular machine is not safe, trust your instinct. Call the supervisor and ask him to verify whether the particular machine is safe or not. Never work on any machine without confirming that it is safe. One wrong decision out of hurry or carelessness can change your whole life; therefore, always stay alert!

Growth of the organization - Overall productivity of the company:

The decision-making skills of management and other stakeholders can directly affect the growth potential of an organization. Making ill-informed business decisions or not weighing the pros and cons of a decision can result in detrimental challenges that can stunt the growth of a company. However, well-thought-out and smart business decisions can support a company as it grows and fosters more growth opportunities.

There are several ways in which a person, team or company as a whole can use the resources available to them. With proper decision-making skills, resources can be used in the most efficient and profitable way possible. However, with poor decision making, resources can be wasted and may result in higher costs being incurred for a project.

Making good decisions in the workplace, especially in terms of safe living, can positively contribute to the accomplishment of personal, team, company goals and objectives. When it comes to safety as a priority, every bit is crucial.

While poor decisions can result in blunders, miscommunication leading to incidences and fatalities, good decisions can lead to increased productivity, enhanced time and resource management and worker's confidence. This will ultimately lead to quicker and better achievement of goals.

In a perfect world, businesses could protect workers by eliminating all workplace hazards. In the real world, the best options are often to lessen dangers by prioritizing safety across companies through effective decisions with lasting results.

Developing the right LOTO procedures, and providing the proper education are great ways to start. Implementing these changes improves the working environment and minimizes long-term costs related to LOTO incidences. Even more importantly, though, these changes can save a life!

E-Square Compliance and Education Division
About the Author

E-Square Compliance and Education Division

A team of safety professionals and educators united to enhance workplace safety with essential Lockout Tagout knowledge. We offer expertise to foster safety compliance and effective LOTO protocols across industries.

E-Square Blog: Expert Analysis and Best Practices for Isolation Safety

The E-Square blog features advice, information and support on everything related to Lockout Tagout, including best practices, industry news, latest innovations and regulatory updates.

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