If hazardous energy is not controlled workers can be exposed to serious injuries or death. What is hazardous energy? Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy could cause injury to employees.
Understanding lockout tagout (LOTO) concepts and the procedures involved with it through lockout tagout training will make all the difference keeping you safe on the job. Over 120 workers annually die and more than 50,000 are injured for disregarding LOTO protocols, which only goes to show how crucial these seemingly tedious procedures are in protecting worker’s lives. The Mining Safety Health Administration (MSHA) reports that 17 people were killed in coal mining operations from not properly following lockout and tagout procedures.
Lack of proper procedures, lockout/tagout training, and improper usage of tags are the most common LOTO-related causes of injuries. Inevitable as it may be, human error can be minimized by providing workers clear instructions on how to go about lockout and tagout procedures and training. See OSHA’s safety and health topics for controlling hazardous energy https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/controlhazardousenergy/index.html
– The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry, outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
– All employees who work in the area where the energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s) and about the prohibition against attempting to restart or re-energize machines or equipment that is locked or tagged out.
– All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace, the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace, and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
– Specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where they are allowed.
– Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.
– Lockout/tagout procedures keep workers from harm’s way by preventing accidental start up thus exposing employees to uncontrolled energy sources.