The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) has organized an industry-wide task force to provide input to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) latest proposed updates to The Control of Hazardous Energy standard (lockout/tagout or LO/TO).
SGIA and 16 other prominent printing industry trade associations comprise the task force: APTech, Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC), Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), Graphic Arts Association (GAA), Great Lakes Graphics Association (GLGA), Pacific Printing Industries Association (PPI), Printing Industries of New England (PINE), Printing Industries of America (PIA), Printing & Graphics Association MidAtlantic (PGAMA), Printing & Imaging Association of MidAmerica (PIA MidAmerica), Printing Industries Association of the South Inc. (PIAS), Printing Industries Association Inc. of Southern California (PIASC), Printing Industries Alliance, Printing Industries of Ohio/N. Kentucky, Printing Industry of the Carolinas Inc. (PICA), Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) and the Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI).
“LO/TO is one of two regulations that keep employees who operate equipment safe, and it’s critical to the wellbeing of our workforce. We’re concerned, however, that the revisions could actually jeopardize print service providers’ (PSP) ability to operate equipment in a safe and efficient manner,” said Gary Jones, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety Affairs, SGIA.
The current LO/TO standard requires any piece of equipment that is being serviced or maintained to be completely turned off, and all controls locked in a manner to prevent it from being inadvertently turned on. In recent years, OSHA has lost several court cases where companies have shown employees can be protected with certain safety systems while the equipment is energized.
“The printing industry has been able to work under an interpretation by OSHA that certain production activities done during makeready — some as simple as changing a plate or screen — can be safely accomplished using the ‘inch-safe-service’ method with stop/safe buttons while the equipment is energized. Without that interpretation, PSPs will add anywhere from minutes to hours to their production cycles,” said Jones. “We need to educate OSHA on the ways existing and newly introduced safety systems allow operators to perform more activities in a safe manner so we don’t lose this ability.”
The task force is collecting data and other information to develop a consensus position to submit to OSHA by the August 19 deadline. “The goal is to keep our workers safe and our industry viable,” Jones said.