The simple answer to the above title is that lockout/tagout procedures prevent injuries and save lives. When any machinery or electrical equipment accidentally or unexpectedly starts, it can cause injury.
Today in America, an estimated 21 workers will be severely injured on the job due to the release of hazardous energy. These energies include mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, gravity or other energies utilized by machines in manufacturing.
Injuries due to hazardous energy tend to be more severe than others. These 21 workers will suffer from lacerations, fractures, and amputations. What’s even worse is that an additional 15 workers will die because someone failed to follow proper lockout/tagout procedures. Even worse than that – all of these accidents were preventable.
Everyday, you are surrounded by machines that utilize tremendous amounts of energy to stamp, press, mold, cut, drill, heat and process raw materials into the goods you manufacture.
As a machine operator, you know that machines require a certain level of upkeep to keep operations running smooth. You also know that equipment can sometimes break down. Simply put, machines need to be maintained and repaired.
Often repairs can’t be done without personnel working beyond the machine guards and other safeguards in place to protect you from injury. This means that maintenance personnel must place themselves in the direct path of the hazardous energy used to manufacture products. Turning a machine off is not enough to protect against the release of hazardous energy, however.
Another employee could come along and unknowingly turn a machine on while maintenance personnel are working on it. You may not be able to see anyone in the machine. They may be behind it, or just out of sight. Because of this, the hazardous energy used to power the machine must be isolated. That’s where lockout/tagout comes in.
What can be done to control hazardous energy?
Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10 percent of the serious accidents in many industries.
Lockout/Tagout is a system of safety procedures used to prevent the equipment from being accidentally started while servicing is taking place. Lockout refers to locks used as a physical barrier to prevent switches from being activated or valves from being turned. Tagout refers to written warnings alerting you to the fact that work is being performed on a specific piece of equipment and therefore, you should not try to operate it.
The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy control procedures:
- Proper lockout/tagout practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy, addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. Employers are also required to train each worker to ensure that they know, understand, and are able to follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy 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 the energy control devices.
- All employees who work in the area where the energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s) and about the prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or equipment that is locked or tagged out.
- All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace, the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace, and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
- Specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where they are allowed.
- Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.
Summit can Help!
Make sure your employees are focused to insure knowledge transfer to each employee on the proper ways to lockout/tagout a machine, as failure to correctly lockout and tagout a machine before beginning work can have deadly consequences.
Comply with OSHA training requirements and motivate workers to recognize the potential hazards of stored energy and follow established safety procedures to reduce energy release accidents in your plant. Isolation of all common forms of energy found in industry is discussed in Summit’s Lockout/Tagout programs.
Stay in control of your lockout/tagout safety training with Summit!
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