Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) consistently ranks in the top 10 most frequently cited standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually. Of the 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry occupations in 2018, 21.1 percent were in construction, where employees are frequently exposed to electrical hazards.
Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard 1910.147 prevents an estimated 50,000 injuries and 120 fatalities each year. In this article, a Texas OSHA lawyer will provide four tips for ensuring your lockout/tagout program is effective and your employees are protected.
Use Lockout/Tagout Devices
Lockout and tagout devices are a crucial component of your program. Lockout devices are used for equipment that can be locked out, such as circuit breakers, plugs, and switches. The lockout device is held in place by a lock or combination and prevents the energizing of the corresponding machine.
Tagout devices are warning devices which are fastened to the energy isolating device to indicate the device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the tagout device is removed. In order to comply with OSHA standards, ensure that any and all machines that may need lockout or tagout devices have the appropriate devices in place. Then, be sure to standardize and organize any devices. The lockout/tagout devices must be durable as well as capable of identifying the individual user.
Certify Employee Training is Up to Date
Retraining of lockout/tagout procedures is necessary for any authorized and affected employees under any of the following conditions:
- Change in machines, equipment, or processes that presents a new hazard
- Change in job assignment
- Change in energy control procedures
- Deviations or inadequacies in energy control procedures
When any of these conditions occur, it is of the utmost importance for employers to certify employees are retrained in order to establish new or revised control procedures. Records of employee training must be kept up to date and certified for the safety of your jobsite.
Ensure Your Procedures Are Machine-Specific
Under OSHA’s lockout/tagout standards, any lockout/tagout procedures utilized on your jobsite must be specific to the machine or piece of equipment the procedure will apply to. In order to ensure your procedures are machine-specific, you need to include specific procedural steps and requirements for not only shutting down, isolating, and securing the machine but also how to test the machine to verify the effectiveness of any energy-control measures, such as lockout and tagout devices.
Understand Who is Affected by Lockout/Tagout
Complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard requires protecting each and every individual who may be involved with or present in the area during lockout/tagout procedures. All authorized employees should be trained in recognizing hazardous energy sources in the workplace and the methods for energy isolation and control. Employees who may be working in the area where the procedure is taking place should be informed about the procedure and consequences involved with attempts to restart or reenergize equipment that has been locked out or tagged out. When outside servicing personnel are engaged in lockout/tagout procedures, the on-site employer and outside employer should inform one another of their respective procedures.
As machines and operating procedures change over time, it is important to make sure your lockout/tagout program is up to date and reflective of these changes. If you have received an OSHA citation involving the lockout/tagout standard, contact one of our Texas OSHA defense lawyers as soon as possible.
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.