Energy sources, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment, can be extremely hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can cause serious and even fatal injury to employees. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents in many industries.
An essential component of energy safety is the lockout/tagout (LOTO) process. Proper lockout/tagout practices and procedures help safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy, but unfortunately, many companies overlook the importance of LOTO. Lockout/tagout violations have consistently appeared on OSHA’s annual Top Ten Citations for many years; 3,254 LOTO citations were issued in 2014.
Lockout/tagout refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. This requires, in part, that a designated individual turns off and disconnects the machinery or equipment from its energy source(s) before performing service or maintenance, and either locks or tags the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.
Lockout devices hold energy-isolation devices in a safe or “off” position and prevent machines or equipment from becoming energized by serving as positive restraints that cannot be removed without a key or other unlocking mechanism. Tagout devices are fastened prominently to energy-isolating devices to warn employees not to re-energize the machines or equipment during service or maintenance.
OSHA’s standard on the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) details the steps employers must take to prevent accidents associated with hazardous energy, including:
- Develop, document, implement and enforce an energy control program and procedures
- Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out and tagout devices only if they provide employee protection equivalent to lockout devices
- Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out
- Inspect energy control procedures at least annually
- Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard
The OSHA Training Center is offering OSHA 7115 – Lockout/Tagout, which focuses on employer roles and responsibilities in the development and implementation of an energy control program, on 2/25/15 and 8/14/15 in Dublin, California, and on 7/11/15 in Carson, California. Visit the OTC website for more information and to register.
About the OSHA Training Center
The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers high quality Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards-based training for construction, maritime and general industry at its Center in Dublin, California, as well as locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. Programs offered include OSHA safety standards, Outreach Trainer courses, Cal/OSHA standards curriculum, environmental courses and customized on-site safety training. For more information, including a complete course schedule, visit the OSHA Training Center website or call (866) 936-OSHA (6742).