Control of Hazardous Energy Sources: Don’t make a fatal error
The control of hazardous energy, commonly known as lockout/tagout (LOTO), is a system used to protect workers that must maintain machinery from unintended start up. When a worker must place any part of their body in the “line of fire” between the point of operation, or area where equipment is energized, then one mistake can be costly. In the fiscal year 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Control of Hazardous Energy the fifth most nationally.
What is hazardous energy sources?
OSHA defines energy sources as “any source of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other energy”.These energies can be hazardous if the worker get in contact with the energized source during working operations. It is common for energy to be trapped from source to point of operations. So, a release of that energy, by unexpected start-up, will cause an effect that can injure a worker.
What are the harmful effects of hazardous energies?
Workers that become susceptible to uncontrolled energy can become seriously injured or killed due to the nature of the force or power driving the source. The types on injuries or fatalities may include:
- Fracturing of body parts
- Electrical shock
OSHA states that on average workers that are injured from exposures from uncontrolled hazardous energies will lead to 24 workdays lost for recuperation.
What can be done?
The use of a LOTO program is the primary way that an employer can avoid injuries to workers from unmitigated hazardous energy. The 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.147 standard requires the following:
- Develop, document, implement, and enforce the LOTO procedures when workers are performing service and maintenance work of equipment.
- Use authorized lockout/tagout devices that are compatible with the equipment or machinery
- Ensure that the lock/blank flange/bolted slip blind is capable to prevent removal without the use of excessive force or unusual techniques, such as bolt cutters.
- Tagout devices must be substantial enough to withstand no less than 50 pounds
- The individual user must be identified on the lockout/tagout device
- A rule of thumb is 1 lock, 1 tag, 1 key to avoid confusion as to the owner of the LOTO devices
- Annual inspection of the program
- Provide effective training on the program and the implementation of the system
- Have outside contractors comply with your rules for LOTO
OSHA states that “ failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of the serious accidents in many industries.” Even though most procedures for LOTO may appear simply to implement, the behavior related to not using lockout/tagout devices is rampant. Employers must train the workers as to how to effectively protect themselves from injury. There are 3 types of workers in an organization related to the control of hazardous energy program:
- Authorized employees-Those that have the training and authority to apply the locking and tagging devices on equipment and machinery
- Affected employees-Those that are affected by the shut down of the equipment and machinery
- Other employees-Those employees that may only see locks and tags as they progress through their days, but do not have responsibility for servicing or maintaining equipment.
Sheldon Primus is a Certified Occupational Safety Specialist with a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Environmental Policy. He has been in the environmental and occupational safety field since 1994. Additionally, he is a trainer for the Certificate for Occupational Safety Managers (COSM) and Certified Occupational Safety Specialist (COSS) programs of the Alliance Safety Council-Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is the author of “7 Steps to Starting A Profitable Safety Consulting Business”.
Sheldon is an authorized OSHA General Industry and Construction trainer for the 10 and 30-hour Outreach program. He was an adjunct instructor at Florida State College at Jacksonville OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTIEC) for teaching all of the OSHA numbered General Industry and Construction courses.
Mr. Primus is a guest columnist for the online publications of Treatment Plant Operator (TPO) and WaterOnline. Additionally, he conducts OSHA compliance webinars for:
Online Compliance Panel
Sheldon is a construction and general industry Subject Matter Expert (SME) course developer and course reviewer for:
Mr. Primus served as part of the Water Environmental Federation (WEF) Water Sector Safety Committee and the US Department of Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) taskforce on All Hazards Communication training for the Water and Wastewater Sector. Sheldon was also the President of the South Florida Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) for the 2017-2018 term.
Sheldon has spoken on safety and health topics for a variety of organizations including, but not limited to:
- American Society of Safety Professionals Safety 2018
- American Society of Safety Professionals Leadership 2016
- VPPPA Annual Convention 2017
- Louisiana Governors Safety Conference 2015, 2016, 2017
- Florida Water Resource Conference 2015, 2016
- Florida Pest Management Association Conference 2015
- Safety Council of the Palm Beaches
- Sunshine Safety Council