Fatalities and injuries from machines are a high risk in many jobs. They occur during service and maintenance tasks when workers face exposure to uncontrolled releases of energy after initiating a machine. Fatalities and injuries during the past few decades have been closely analyzed in workplaces with dangerous machinery. In most cases, failure to lock out and tag out machinery or isolation areas was a contributing factor. It’s extremely important to lock out and tag out machinery that must be de-energized. If machines aren’t properly tagged or locked, workers can be caught in them. Fractures, amputations, crushing injuries and death are the most common results.
When Lock Out/Tag Out Is Necessary. It’s essential for employees to know the procedures, understand the importance of them and understand the possible consequences of failing to comply. Lock out and tag out procedures should be implemented in the following conditions:
- If an unexpected start-up of a machine would release stored energy.
- During all initial set-up procedures. In any circumstances requiring workers to bypass or remove a safety device.
- When a body part of any worker must be placed in the danger zone or point of operation.
Employer Recommendations. The responsibility of preventing machine-related injuries in the workplace falls on the employer. To keep employees safe and minimize the risk of injuries, it’s important to take the following steps to comply with OSHA:
- Ensure all workers clearly understand when hazardous energy control procedures are applicable.
- Provide training for energy control procedures.
- Develop and implement a program for hazardous energy control procedures.
- Provide tag out and lock out protocol training and inspection requirement training before allowing maintenance or service work to be performed.
- Label isolation devices clearly.
- Provide training for workers in their primary or native language. Provide training for energy isolation and control methods.
- Develop specific lock out and tag out procedures for each machine.
- Make sure employees know when safety devices are removed before starting up a machine.
- Make sure workers are provided with plenty of lock out devices, tag out devices and any other essential hardware.
- Don’t allow anyone under the age of 18 to work on hazardous machinery.
Worker Recommendations. It’s important for all workers to comply with hazardous energy control procedures outlined by an employer. If there are any issues with the program, be sure to bring them to the employer’s attention immediately. It is crucial to do so for any issues relating to safety. In addition to this, be sure to complete all training offered and required by the employer. Before working with or performing maintenance on a machine, be sure to do the following:
- De-energize hazardous energy sources.
- De-energize electrical circuits.
- Block machine parts against motion.
- Shut down or disconnect motors and engines.
- Block the flow of fluids in pneumatic or hydraulic systems.
- Lock out and tag out hazardous energy sources. This includes control valves and breaker panels.
- Dissipate or block stored energy.
- Block or release springs under tension or compression.
- Discharge capacitors.
- Avoid venting flammable, toxic or explosive substances into the air.
- Vent permissible fluids from pressure tanks, vessels or accumulators.
- Verify that all hazardous energy sources are de-energized. Make sure there is only one key for each lock.
- Don’t allow anyone else to remove a lock they’re not assigned to.
- Ensure fellow workers are clear of danger zones before re-energizing a hazardous energy system.
- Inspect work properly before removing the lock to activate equipment.
Manufacturer Recommendations. It’s best for manufacturers to consider equipment designs that require less disconnection points. In addition to this, it’s beneficial to design equipment that has disconnection points that are easy to access. The equipment’s overall purpose should work in accordance to promote safe lock out and tag out procedures. Equipment should also be designed with optimal safety features for repair or maintenance work.
Before implementing a plan, be sure to understand OSHA regulations. Failure to comply with OSHA standards comes with serious consequences. Workers and employers should also be properly insured against potential hazards. To get answers for any questions about hazardous workplaces, contact us.