Finding malfunctions the hard way

by on May 19, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Equipment malfunctions are a fact of business life. But when they happen, do workers know what to do? Here’s a cautionary example involving a near-miss:

In Richland, WA, a maintenance worker plugged a welding rod oven into an electrical outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

The device tripped the circuit. Perhaps thinking the circuit was malfunctioning (instead of the equipment), the maintenance worker then got the idea to plug the equipment into a non-GFCI protected outlet. He didn’t notice his hand was gripping a damaged power cord at the time.

Luckily, he received only a mild electrical shock.

What workers can do
How do workers handle malfunctioning equipment?

1. Inspect, inspect, inspect. All equipment, whether new or used, should be checked over when it is first delivered. Just because equipment was shipped in good condition doesn’t mean it arrived without problems.
Then, workers should check the equipment before each shift. Look for obvious hazards such as exposed wires, frayed ends, or cracked insulation.
Note: The obvious stuff is sometimes the easiest to miss – such as a frayed or cracked power cord.

2. Respond to warning signs. If the problem and solution aren’t obvious (for example, such as quickly replacing a damaged part) workers should immediately tag equipment as out of service and report the problem.

That way, no one else will “discover” the hazard the hard way.

photo credit: shazbot

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