The numbers are staggering: Lockout tagout issues continue to be an all too common occurrence in safety programs.

Dangerous electrical energy can easily be stored in machining operations—so proper lockout tagout processes, devices and adequate training are needed to help keep workers safe from harm. 
Uncontrolled hazardous energy is potentially dangerous. It can happen when a machine appears to be powered down when it’s scheduled to be serviced. Without proper physical, documented protections in place, such as those found in a lockout tagout program, it can be very difficult to know the confirmed state of a machine or a cell of machines when they’re scheduled for maintenance or repairs. Lockout tagout procedures are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help avoid amputations and fatalities—and are intended to help ensure machines are in a state of zero energy before, during and after work is being performed.

“Employees going inside a piece of equipment might be exposed to potential hazards from moving belts, pulleys, gears, sprockets, chemicals or hot steam,” says Brian Drake, assistant regional administrator for enforcement programs in OSHA Region 7, in the article “Preventing Safety Hazards with Effective Lockout/Tagout Programs.” 

“They could also be crushed as a result of pneumatic or hydraulic energy, or even gravity,” says Drake.

It’s terrible to imagine accidents occurring from machines storing energy, but it unfortunately does occur—and it happens more often than most manufacturers would care to admit—which is why lockout tagout issues still rank in the top half of OSHA violations.

OSHA’s rules for lockout tagout procedures (1910 Subpart J, The Control of Hazardous Energy (1910.147)) require facilities to establish a program—and to provide training “to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.” The law also requires that written plans are in place for proper lockout/tagout—and that those plans are audited and updated annually. 

To help better understand the gravity of hazardous energy, dive into our infographic, which examines some of the key data points on lockout tagout. Be sure to look below the infographic for articles that detail important tips and guidance you can use in your safety program to help prevent harm from uncontrolled hazardous energy.


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