Lockout/Tagout Procedures and Hazardous Energy

January 17, 2019

Lockout/tagout procedures are essential to a safe work environment. Employers must develop a system for ensuring that machinery is disabled during maintenance to prevent the release of hazardous energy. Proper lockout/tagout procedures and practices are addressed in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for the Control of Hazardous Energy.

Harmful Effects of Hazardous Energy

Hazardous chemical, electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, or thermal energy can seriously injure or kill workers if not properly controlled. OSHA reports that workers injured by hazardous energy miss an average of 24 days of work.

Some common types of injuries that workers suffer from hazardous energy exposure include:

According to OSHA, nearly ten percent of all serious accidents in many industries are caused by inadequate or nonexistent lockout/tagout procedures. Craft workers, electricians, machine operators, and laborers, are some of the types of workers who face the greatest risk of injury because they routinely service equipment.

OSHA Standard for Lockout/Tagout

OSHA sets forth lockout/tagout practices and procedures for the general industry, as well as several specific industries, including longshoring and construction. Employers have a duty to create an energy control program that suits their specific business needs, while still maintaining compliance with the relevant OSHA standards.

Employees must be trained on the purpose and function of the program to ensure they are able to safely implement the proper lockout/tagout procedures. Employers should also make workers aware of the dangers of restarting or reenergizing machines while they are locked or tagged out, as well as inform them of the detailed procedures for equipment in writing.

General Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Some general lockout/tagout procedures include:

  • Notifying affected workers that lockout/tagout procedures will be happening or are completed
  • Only using locks and tags that are specifically designed for the job
  • Providing strong, durable locks and tags that cannot be accidentally removed
  • Prohibiting workers from attaching or removing another worker’s lock
  • Marking locks and tags with the names of workers who are authorized to use them
  • Allowing only one worker – the one who places the lock – to have the key to the lock
  • Requiring each employee who is working on the machine to attach their own lock at each isolation point, and not restarting the machine until all are removed
  • Checking for secondary sources of hazardous energy
  • Having a group lock box for pieces of equipment with various hazardous energy sources that require many people to work on them simultaneously
  • Performing hazardous energy lockout verification
  • Having a system in place for shift changeovers that occur during maintenance
  • Ensuring that the equipment is functioning properly after maintenance
  • Making sure lockout/tagout procedures are still accurate, and keeping them up to date

Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C.: Your Workplace Accident Lawyers in Philadelphia

If you were injured at work due to inadequate or nonexistent lockout/tagout procedures, you owe it to yourself to contact a workplace accident lawyer in Philadelphia. You may be entitled to various forms of workers’ compensation benefits, including compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages. For more than 35 years, the experienced attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C.  have represented workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

We proudly represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum Lynne, DarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssington, FolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion StationMorton, Narberth, Norristown, NorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect Park, QuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.