The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed comprehensive programs to help prevent hazardous energy injuries. Each year thousands of workers are killed or injured by the failure to control “hazardous energy” in the workplace when machinery is being repaired or maintained.
OSHA’s website states, “Employers must train workers to ensure they know, understand and can follow applicable control procedures. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of energy control devices.” Electrocution, mechanical, thermal, chemical, pneumatic, and hydraulic accidents can occur if “hazardous energy” is released during maintenance and repair resulting in burns, crushing, cutting, or broken bones. These injuries can be fatal.
According to Occupational Health and Safety Magazine, in simple terms, employees must know and understand the importance of how to shut off a system while it is being maintained or repaired. Further, employees must understand not to restart or re-energize equipment that is locked-out or tagged-out unless authorized to do so. Those who are responsible for locking out machines must be trained in how to recognize hazardous energy sources in the workplace, how to control them and isolate them. Whenever control methods change or new ones are introduced, employees must be retrained. Finally, OSHA requires employers to conduct annual audits to make sure the procedures are understood and being adhered to by employees.
OSHA has developed comprehensive online training materials to support their “Hazardous Energy” Initiatives. The Lockout/Tagout Tutorial Materials are found on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/lototraining/tutorial/tu-overvw.html.