Incident summary: A man who often played fast and loose with safety was decapitated after he failed to lock out a hazardous machine before putting himself in harm’s way.
What happened: An employee was operating a large piece of equipment that consisted of a conveyor belt feeding materials onto a scale located underneath a 54- inch-wide by 24-inch-high hooded intake opening. The load was then sliced to size, pushed from the scale and packaged for shipment.
The crew member had received extensive training on lockout/tagout procedures. In fact, two weeks beforehand, he’d attended a training session specifically on equipment de-energization.
However, the staffer was known to play fast and loose with safety. In fact, his bosses frequently saw him disregarding required safety procedures but issued only verbal warnings to him.
To prepare the equipment for maintenance, the staff member was supposed to lock out the device, climb underneath the hood and push out stuck materials.
Unfortunately, the worker failed to de-energize the equipment before he climbed onto the conveyor and into the opening. Once he was under the hood, his body was on top of the scale. When the weight of his body and the jammed materials reached 218 pounds, the scale activated the guillotine, which descended and sliced off the worker’s head.
Findings: Investigators said the 39-year-old man would probably still be alive if his supervisors had effectively disciplined him when he skipped lockout/tagout steps.
The verbal reprimands weren’t enough to prevent him from disregarding safety procedures, with fatal results.
(From the Sept. 5, 2023, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)