Managing risks linked to machinery in sawmills by controlling hazardous energies

Theory and practice in eight sawmills
Machines pose various types of hazards and exposure to these hazards can result in injury or death. Risks linked to machinery can be managed by controlling hazardous energies. Safety procedures are thus used to control hazardous energies on machinery when workers perform different tasks such as maintenance, unjamming, or repair work. These procedures are part of a safety management policy for hazardous energies. The policy is described in a document referred to as the lockout program, which includes activities and work targeted by lockout, audits, hazard identification, training, communication and so on. The objective of this paper is to understand how the lockout program is actually implemented. As such, seven lockout programs from eight sawmills were analyzed. Twenty-two interviews were conducted with machine operators, maintenance workers and managers to gain a better understanding of the actual application of lockout programs, identify weak points and propose improvements. Fifty-seven lockout procedures were also observed. It was found that (i) hazard identification was incomplete, (ii) lockout program signatures and dates were missing, (iii) actual lockout practices were better than the procedures described in the programs regarding lockout hardware, rules to observe when using lockout hardware (e.g. keeping keys in one's possession at all times) and machinery design for facilitating lockout, (iv) locks were applied to control systems during minor unjamming contrary to lockout principles, and (v) permits were issued as alternatives to lockout for troubleshooting without risk assessment. In actual fact, risk assessment is needed for both interventions requiring lockout and those without lockout.

Source: Poisson, Pascal; Chinniah, Yuvin. Safety Science. Volume 84, April 2016, p. 117-130.

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