The Loss of James Jacobs

September 04, 2019

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) is greatly saddened to learn of the death of James Jacobs. While working for Otis Elevator Company on September 3, Jacobs was killed on the job at TripAdvisor's Needham headquarters. He was 52-years-old and a resident of Westport.
Although details are still emerging, MassCOSH believes this loss of life was caused by a lockout/tag out-related incident involving an elevator. Lockout/tagout is performed to prevent any unexpected energization, start-up or release of stored energy, such as an unintentional engaging of a control lever or an unexpected hydraulic system failure, that could injure workers during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.147 requires that employers establish procedures for isolating machines and equipment during servicing and maintenance from the input of energy by affixing appropriate locks or tags to energy isolating devices and then blocking and securing any movable part and training employees on these procedures.
Otis Elevator Company is required to provide specific lockout/tagout programs in writing and include the procedures required to de-energize all moving parts, hydraulics, and electrical equipment to protect its workers. The incident is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Elevator work can be dangerous due to workers being exposed to electrical hazards, falls, and crushing injuries. The last fatal elevator injury in the state was in 2014, when an elevator operator for a property management company fell down the shaft when he tried to exit a stuck service elevator. In 2009, a general mechanic was killed in in Chelsea while working on a freight elevator that fell. In 2005, an elevator installer/maintenance worker like Jacobs was killed in a lockout/tagout event when the elevator moved upward. 
“We would like the family, friends, and coworkers of James to know our thoughts are with them during this very sad time and that we are available to provide support and services,” said MassCOSH Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan. “As always, we will continue to advocate for all policies, laws, and employer practices that will, one day, end all loss of life on the job.”