Contributor: Lucy Holford-Walker, Sentric Group Global Copywriter and PR
The Sentric Group’s Kirk Key Interlock Team recently exhibited at the annual VPPPA Safety+ Symposium, which offered safety professionals the chance to engage and collaborate with fellow industry leaders with the aim of achieving and maintaining on-site safety.
With the number of fatal work injuries across the United States increasing year-on-year, exhibits like this one remind us that on-site safety is more important than ever, and we need to remain on top of our safety solutions game if we are to successfully contribute to mitigating risk on worksites, and ultimately save lives.
A look at the numbers
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2021 – and that’s an 8.9-percent increase from the 4,764 fatal work injuries in 2020. What’s more, the fatal work injury rate was 3.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, which is also up from 3.4 per 100,000 FTE in 2020. This is the highest the fatal work injury rate has been since 2016.
The Bureau also reports that workers in transportation and material-moving occupations experienced a series high of 1,523 fatal work injuries in 2021 and represent the occupational group with the highest number of fatalities overall, which is an increase of a shocking 18.8 percent from 2020. Quite chilling too is the statistic that in 2021 a worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury.
With the industrial safety solutions available on the US market today, this is a blatant and inordinate waste of human life, which we believe can certainly be mitigated – with the correct and customized safety solution, of course.
Interlock safety systems – what are they and do they work?
Trapped key interlock safety systems, designed by experts in the field like Kirk, are the answer when it comes to creating secure workspaces in safety-critical environments. When installing a trapped key interlock, whether in the Energy, Manufacturing, Industrial, Logistic, or Transport sector, businesses are mitigating the risks caused by human error. But how?
Simply put, the trapped key interlocking solution consists of three defined actions: isolating the hazard, transferring or exchanging sequenced keys, and then accessing the protected area or equipment. The key can only be removed when the locking bolt is in a predetermined position, meaning the system prevents any person or people from trying to circumvent the default setting which is crucial to on-site safety.
Interlock safety systems therefore provide an added level of protection from hazardous energy or moving equipment with a predetermined sequence of operations, protecting the people involved, the plant, as well as the reputation of the business.
What about pre-existing safety measures like LOTO?
While the Lock Out / Tag Out (LOTO) system which many businesses choose to implement may provide a visual warning and some level of protection, a trapped key interlock system physically prevents a specific set of actions until the previous action has been completed. Obviously, this is where the trapped key interlock trumps LOTO, because trapped key interlocks eliminate the possibility of human error.
Good news, however, for business owners who currently have LOTO systems installed: The trapped key interlocking system is customizable. In other words, trapped key interlocks can be incorporated into any already-functioning LOTO system and can easily work in conjunction with these pre-existing setups. So, there really is no excuse for on-site accidents and fatalities.
Perhaps one obstacle here contributing to the high fatal work injury rate, is the business itself. Business leadership across all industries need to be fully onboard and believe in taking the necessary steps to provide paramount on-site safety for their employees. Without this at the start, nothing will save lives.
Essentially, if the numbers of fatal work injuries are to improve, businesses need to provide ultimate risk control and need to not only understand, but acknowledge too, that everyone has the right to be safe at work – and then they need to install devices that mitigate risk as far as possible.
Products available on the market such as trapped key interlocks provide this assurance and are proven to enhance safety. While most standard safety devices do not stand up to harsh industrial and manufacturing environments, the trapped key interlock safety system does – giving business owners the peace of mind that common safety devices on the market simply cannot provide.
We absolutely can mitigate the risks involved on worksites, it’s just a matter of belief in ultimate workplace safety on the part of business owners, and then implementation of the correct devices which are designed and proven to enhance safety and save lives.
About Kirk Key
Since 1932, Kirk Key has been the pioneering industry leader in interlocks. KIRK designs and manufactures interlock safety solutions to ensure the safety of workers and the efficiency of operations. The company manufactures more than 70,000 safety components each year for use in a wide range of industries, guaranteeing a sequential pattern of safe operations for isolating energy and safely accessing hazardous areas.
Kirk Key is part of the Sentric group, which consists of three sister companies Kirk in the US, STI in France and Castell in the UK. Sentric group produces uncompromising safety solutions for businesses whose people and equipment operate in harsh and safety critical environments. For more information, visit the Kirk Key website.