Preventing Uncontrolled Release of Energy
Written by Steve Hudgik
Lockout/Tagout is one of the top ten most frequently cited violations of OSHA standards. Establishing and using OSHA compliant lockout/tagout procedures is critically important for workplace safety. In addition, using labels and signs to identify hazardous sources of energy, to warn about potential hazards, and to provide lockout/tagout procedures is an important part of protecting your employees
Lockout/Tagout Procedures - NIOSH Recommendations
Take the following steps to protect yourself from hazardous energy:
- Know and follow OSHA standards.
- Identify and label all sources of hazardous energy.
- Before beginning work, ensure the following has been done:
- De-energize all sources of hazardous energy:
- Disconnect or shutdown engines or motors
- De-energize electrical circuits
- Block fluid flow in hydraulic or pneumatic systems
- Block machine parts against motion
- Discharge capacitors
- Release or block springs that are under compression or tension.
- Vent fluids from pressure vessels, tanks, or accumulators
- Follow lockout/tagout procedures for all forms of hazardous energy, including electrical breaker panels, control valves, etc.
- Your lockout/tagout procedures should include ensuring only one key exists for each assigned locks and that only one person has a key.
- Verify by test and/or observation that all energy sources are de-energized.
- Inspect repair work before removing a lock and activating the equipment.
- Make sure that only the person doing the work removes their assigned lock.
- Make sure that everyone, including coworkers and all other people, are clear of danger points before re-energizing the system.
- Participate in all training programs offered by your employers.
Fully Implement Lockout/Tagout Procedures
A study conducted by NIOSH has shown that either lockout/tagout procedures are not properly written, or they are not fully complied with. The top three factors that result fatalities related to hazardous energy are:
- Failure to completely de-energize, isolate, block, and/or dissipate the energy source (82% of incidents)
- Failure to lock out and tagout energy control devices and isolation points after de-energization (11% of the incidents)
- Failure to verify that the energy source was de-energized before beginning work (7% of the incidents)
Lockout/Tagout Procedures - OSHA Hazardous Energy Safety Requirements
OSHA standards for general industry require employers to "establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, start up or release of stored energy could occur and cause in jury, the machine or equipment shall be isolated from the energy source, and rendered in operative."
Other OSHA standards for general industry cite the need for de-energizing electrical energy and locking and tagging electrical circuits and equipment before performing maintenance and servicing tasks. OSHA standards for construction also contain requirements for protecting workers from electrical hazards.
NIOSH Hazardous Energy RecommendationsNIOSH Hazardous Energy Recommendations
NIOSH recommends that employers implement the following steps to prevent injuries and deaths of workers who must work with hazardous energy in their jobs:
- Comply with OSHA regulations.
- Develop and implement a hazardous energy control program as required by OSHA.
- Identify and label all hazardous energy sources.
- De-energize, isolate, block, and/or dissipate all forms of hazardous energy before work begins.
- Establish lock out/tagout procedures that:
- require workers to secure energy control devices with their own individually assigned locks and keys.
- there is only one key for each lock the worker controls. (Use of master keys should be reserved for unusual circumstances when the worker is absent from the workplace. However, if master keys are necessary, keep them under supervisory control. List the proper procedures for using them in the written program for controlling hazardous energy.)
- each lock used to secure an energy control device is clearly labeled to identify the worker assigned to the lock.
- ensure that the worker who installs a lock is the one who removes it after all work has been completed.
- ensure that if work is not completed when the shift changes, workers arriving on shift should apply their locks before departing workers remove their locks.
Lockout/Tagout Procedures - Improving Compliance
A critical component for improving compliance with lockout/tagout procedures are labels and signs. Use labels and signs to remind workers about the importance of completely following lockout/tagout procedures. Use signs to post lockout/tagout procedures in the locations where they must be followed. Labels and signs made with DuraLabel printers allow you to communicate needed information right at the point where it is needed - wherever that is.
Call 1-888-326-9244 today for more information about DuraLabel custom label printers and tough-tested supplies. Ask about special LOTO kits.