Common L.O.T.O. Mistakes and How to Prevent Them
In 2019 there were 166 injuries caused by exposure to electricity (ESFI, 2021). This number may seem relatively low when compared to the amount of people who work around electricity daily, but it is curious that there are still accidents, even with Lockout/ Tagout (L.O.T.O.) procedures in place.
One of the main reasons for such striking statistics is that most accidents are a result of workers not paying attention. Kind of like when someone takes a sip of coffee and doesnt realize their lips aren’t touching the rim of the cup causing the coffee to spill all over the place. In a mistake like that you might end up with a stained top and a need for a new shirt, but a simple human mistake in the utility industry can be far worse. When a worker is exposed to hazardous energy, they often lose an average of 24 workdays. In addition, some accidents can cost companies millions of dollars in lawsuits, hours, negative publicity, and fines. It’s important to remember that these injuries often lead to lifelong health problems and even death.
It’s true that many companies have great L.O.T.O. procedures but, more often than not, they don’t consistently train or practice them which causes accidents down the road. There are also times when changes to equipment have been made without properly informing the workers. Injuries can also happen when electrical threats are hidden. For example, imagine a scenario where L.O.T.O. is practiced but something has been cross-wired and the individual working on a piece of equipment has no idea that it’s still energized. They start working on the equipment only to discover the shocking truth a moment too late.
When we think about accidents that we’ve seen in the workplace, they can often be a result of either rushing through a project, being complacent (particularly in group projects), and making trusting assumptions about a scenario. When you place those three common human factors into an environment, it dramatically changes the tone. Even with excellent L.O.T.O. procedures, we face the daily reality that as humans, we are still at risk.
L.O.T.O. procedures cannot eliminate all risks but they can greatly reduce them. Even with caution, there is still room for human error as well as unknown errors. This is why it’s essential to have personal protection equipment (PPE), such as the Safeguard COMPASS®, that can detect both current and voltage as one navigates an environment. It’s an added sixth sense that greatly reduces risk as well as your level of stress on the job. PVDs have already saved the lives of multiple utility workers and linemen.
At the end of the day, remember that “it’s not dead until proven dead.” Approach every situation with caution and proper protective equipment and procedures and utilize your PVCD as an additional effort to greatly reduce risks and save money.
Electrical Safety Foundation International. (2021, January). ESFI Occupational Injury and Fatality Statistics. https://www.esfi.org/workplace-injury-and-fatality-statistics
Demo a COMPASS® PVCD here.