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Lockout/Tagout – Keeping Your Workers Safe from Hazardous Energy

Posted by on in Lockout/Tagout Programs
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Back in 1982, OSHA developed the Control of Hazardous Energy regulation to help protect workers who routinely service equipment in the workplace, and it went into effect in 1989. This regulation is now commonly known as the lockout/tagout (LOTO) regulation, and it outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment (General Industry -29 CFR 1910.147).  The regulation also addresses a number of other OSHA standards, including but not limited to Marine Terminals, Construction, Electrical and Special Industries.

So what is hazardous energy? When machines or equipment are being prepared for service or maintenance, they often contain some form of hazardous energy, which is any type of energy that can be released and cause harm. Energy sources include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal and other energy sources. Failure to control such hazardous energy can cause serious injuries and death, and many injuries include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating or fracturing body parts.  Some examples of such injuries include the following:

  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases and crushes a worker who is trying to release the jam.
  • A valve is turned on somewhere along the same line where a worker is repairing a connection in the pipes, and the fluid or steam then spills on and burns the worker.
  • Internal wiring on the equipment electrically shorts, shocking the worker repairing the equipment.

Every workplace should have an energy control program in place, with LOTO safety being part of that program. A LOTO procedure should include the following six steps:

1. Preparation – the employee must investigate and have a complete understanding of all types of hazardous energy that might need to be controlled, including identifying the specific hazards and how to control that energy

2. Shut Down – shut down the machine or equipment that will be serviced and inform any employee affected by the shutdown

3. Isolation – isolate the machine or equipment from any source of energy, which may include turning power off at a breaker or shutting a valve

4. Lockout/Tagout – the employee will attach lockout/tagout devices to each energy-isolating device – these devices should not be removed by anyone except by the person performing the lockout, and the tag should include the name of the person and other needed information who is performing the LOTO

5. Stored Energy Check – hazardous energy can be “stored” within the machine, so during this step, any potentially hazardous stored or residual energy must be released, disconnected, restrained or made non-hazardous

6. Isolation Verification – doublecheck/verify that everything was done correctly, and the machine or equipment is de-energized

It is estimated there are at least three million workers who service equipment routinely, including craft workers, electricians, machine operators and laborers. Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries, and those who are injured lose an average of 24 workdays recuperating. Compliance with LOTO standards prevents on average an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. offers a Lockout/Tagout program, which includes effective programming, procedure writing and labeling, training and data management.  In the past 15 years, Workplace Safety & Health Co., Inc. has authored over 15,000 energy control/lockout-tagout procedures for the automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, medical device, and ferrous & non-ferrous metals industries. Give us a call to see how we can help you implement or update your LOTO program and train your employees on those life-saving procedures – 317-253-9737.

OSHA Fact Sheet - https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf

NIOSH Alert - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-110/pdfs/99-110sum.pdf

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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