Employees servicing machines may be exposed to harm or death if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. The Lockout/Tagout standard addresses procedures necessary to disable machinery in order to prevent the freeing of hazardous energy when machinery is serviced or maintained. Below our OSHA attorneys have provided information on the machinery that qualifies for the Lockout/Tagout standard.
When does it apply?
The lockout standard applies when an employee can be injured by the unexpected release of energy when servicing a machine. A lockout standard puts a device on a machine that blocks the flow of energy to it. When possible, use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out, because tagout devices are easier to remove and provide less protection for employees. Tagout devices should only to be used if the machinery can be fixed by hand, is self-locking, or requires 50 pounds of minimal strength to unlock it. Tagout devices may only be used as an alternative to lockout devices if the tagout program provides employees an equal amount of protection.
Do you unplug it?
All machinery that qualifies for the lockout/tagout method has to be turned off and disconnected from its energy source. This is because some machinery, even when unplugged, stores energy. The lockout/tagout method stands as a reminder before performing service that the authorized employee needs to take the effective steps to verify that the energy has been released.
Energy control procedures should document all energy sources, the hazards presented, the quantifiable level of danger, and whether a lockout or tagout method was used. If you would like to know the steps for setting up energy control procedures that include lockout/tagout procedures, see the article previously provided by our OSHA attorneys.
What should you tell your employees?
Employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the hazardous energy control procedures. Employee training must cover the following: the employer’s program; the parts of the energy control procedure pertinent to the worker’s duties; and the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout methods.
Since many workers service both internal and external equipment, compliance with the lockout/tagout standard will prevent a large number of fatalities and injuries each year.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.