In 2017, OSHA issued 2,877 citations for missing or inadequate lockout/tagout compliance, making this one of the top 5 industrial safety violations of the year. Lockout/tagout procedures are required to protect workers from hazardous energy. When lockout/tagout procedures are missing or inadequate, hazardous energy releases can lead to severe injury and death. Here’s what you need to know to avoid citations and keep your workers safe.
When most people hear “hazardous energy,” they think of electricity. Electricity can be a form of hazardous energy, but it’s not the only one covered by OSHA standard 1910.147. Other hazardous energy sources may include mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or any other source coming from machines and equipment.
These energy sources may result in serious injury or death to workers when unexpected startup or release of stored energy occurs during servicing and maintenance activities. Some examples of hazardous energy release include:
Workers injured by hazardous energy lose an average of 24 days of work for each incident, and some never return to work at all. A simple lockout/tagout procedure can prevent both the financial and the human cost of these injuries.
Lockout/tagout is the most common way to protect workers from hazardous energy. It refers to the specific practices and procedures that ensure that hazardous energy sources are turned off or disconnected (Lockout) during maintenance and service activities that could result in harm to a worker in the event of unexpected energy release; and, the affixing of secure locks/devices (Tagout) to isolate the energy source, that can only be released by the employee placing the “Tagout” device.
OSHA requires that all employers identify potential sources of hazardous energy on the work site, and establish procedures to protect employees. For each potential source, the standard specifies that employers must:
Lockout/tagout procedures are an important part of every industrial workplace, where hazardous energy sources are common. To learn more about your obligations and how to stay in compliance, download OSHA’s fact sheet.
For help identifying your hazardous energy sources and developing procedures for compliance, you can speak with one of our experienced industrial hygienists right now.