Inadequate lockout tops safety risks for corrugated workers

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

In April, a group of Ontario corrugating industry experts put the issue of inadequate lockout and tagout of machinery firmly at the top of their safety agenda.

Jerry Traer

The volunteer group of eight subject matter experts – four management and four worker representatives – met virtually for a corrugating workplace risk assessment facilitated by Jerry Traer, program and training specialist at Workplace Safety North (WSN). They identified the top risks facing workers in the industry.

“We had a really good group of people with lots of industry experience,” said Traer. “There was good discussion with everyone in general agreement. There wasn’t much difference between the workers and managers, so the results of the risk assessment are very accurate. I think the top 10 risks really represent the issues within the corrugating sector.”

Top 10 health and safety risks

The provincial corrugating sector risk assessment workshop results took a scientific and focused approach to improving workplace health and safety. In advance of the workshop, each industry expert sent all workplace health and safety risks they’d observed within their sector. The group reviewed and discussed each risk before ranking it.

The group came up with the following as the top hazards that workers face in the corrugating industry:

  1. Inadequate lockout-tagout resulting in injury
  2. Pedestrian struck by mobile equipment
  3. Ergonomics – injuries to workers
  4. Inadequate guarding (older equipment with outdated guarding)
  5. Improper pedestrian and mobile equipment interaction
  6. Improper storage of paper roll and inventory (wood pallets, finished goods)
  7. Caught in or struck by stationary equipment (leading to falls and crush)
  8. Contractor training and inadequate compliance
  9. Incomplete lockout and tagout due to design constraints (equipment and process issues)
  10. Occupational illness (repetitive strain injury)

Insufficient training

When it came time for the final vote on the top risks, only the workers and managers in the corrugating industry were allowed to vote. To ensure an open and fair voting process, handheld electronic devices recorded votes anonymously. Both workers and management agreed: the top danger corrugating workers face is inadequate lockout and tagout.

“As they identified specific conditions and situations that could result in injury or illness, we asked the group, ‘What keeps you up at night?’” Traer said. “Both workers and managers agreed: inadequate lockout and tagout.”

Contributing factors include insufficient training and frontline supervision.

“The risk assessment workshop supplied direct feedback from industry experts about their perception of the workplace. By using these leading rather than lagging indicators like injury reports, WSN can be more proactive,” says Traer.

Stepping up training

Traer noted that tnadequate lockout tagout resulting in injury was also the number one risk for the pulp and paper sector. Issues for that sector included getting enough experience with training people.

“One of the comments was, ‘we’ve got new people training new people,’ so I think we’re going to be putting together an auditing process to assess lockout programs and provide recommendations for identified gaps, and then step-up training for workers and managers who are instructing others about lockout. I believe a similar approach will be used with the corrugating sector,” added Traer.

The next step in the risk assessment research is the root cause analysis planned for the Fall of 2022.

Traer said that because the pulp and paper sector will be doing a root cause analysis of inadequate lockout, his group will  probably look at the number two risk, which is ‘pedestrians struck by mobile equipment’.

Traer believes this is a good choice because in the corrugating sector – more so than the pulp and paper sector – there is more interaction between workers and lift trucks. Typically, workers are constantly bringing rolls to the operating floor to place on the corrugating machine, and then picking up finished product and bringing it to the warehouse.