What is Lockout/Tagout?

Source: Pichit Boonhaud - 123RF

Many stories SUN News reports on involve lockout/tagout issues and the penalties accrued for the violation of this practice.

The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1910.147, addresses the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment, thereby preventing the release of hazardous energy while employees perform servicing and maintenance activities.

The standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous energies—electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, and other energy sources.

In addition, 29 CFR 1910.333 sets forth requirements to protect employees working on electric circuits and equipment.

This section requires workers to use safe work practices, including lockout and tagging procedures. These provisions apply when employees are exposed to electrical hazards while working on, near, or with conductors or systems that use electric energy.

Each year workers are killed, body parts are crushed, and others lose fingers, hands, arms.

For example, in just two years in California (2005 and 2006) there were 9 fatalities and 113 amputations.

Why do accidents happen?

Some common reasons include:

  • All hazardous energy sources were not de-energized and controlled;
  • Equipment was not locked out or tag out after powering off;
  • Did not actually think through the steps of the energy control before starting work;
  • Inadequate or no training; and
  • Taking shortcuts .

According to OSHA, compliance with the lockout/ tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.