Workers can suffer serious injury or death when servicing or maintaining electrical equipment—from the unexpected startup of the equipment to a release of stored energy.
It’s why OSHA is reminding employers of the dangers of hazardous energy and the need to protect workers from these potentially fatal releases.
Hazardous energy comes from electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment.
Injuries from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance can include electrocution, burns, lacerations, amputations, and broken bones.
Some examples of hazardous energy include:
- A steam valve automatically turns on, burning workers who are repairing a downstream pipe connection
- A jammed conveyor suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam
- Internal wiring on factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking a workers who is repairing it
Workers who face the greatest risk from hazardous energy are those who service equipment routinely, including electricians, machine operators, laborers, and craft workers.
The best way to protect workers from hazardous energy releases is to use proper lockout/tagout practices and procedures.
The OSHA standard for controlling hazardous energy in general industry outlines steps for different types of hazardous energy.
OSHA’s lockout/tagout fact sheet describes the steps necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent hazardous energy release.
The lockout/tagout standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from these dangerous releases.
Employers are also required to train workers to ensure they know, understand, and can follow applicable provisions of hazardous energy control procedures.
Employers must train all employees who work in an area where energy control procedures are used to recognize hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy, and means of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
Employers must also set specific procedures and limitations relating to tagout systems where allowed, and retrain employees to maintain proficiency or when introducing a new or changed control method.
Here is more information and examples of the elements of a lockout/tagout program.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1900).