#8 Lockout/Tagout -Top OSHA Violations of 2013

#8 Lockout/Tagout -Top OSHA Violations of 2013

#8 Lockout/Tagout - Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series

Most people immediately think of electricity as a potentially hazardous energy source. However, there are other sources of energy that can be just as hazardous.  Energy sources can include thermal energy, chemical energy, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, and gravity.  It is important to remember that all sources of energy that have the potential to unexpectedly start-up, energize, or release must be identified and locked, blocked, or released before servicing or maintenance is performed. The main method to control those hazards is the use of Lockout/Tagout. Lockout/Tagout is vital to ensure the safety of yourself or your employees.

An estimated 120 lives are saved and 50,000 injuries prevented each year by complying with OSHA lockout/tagout standards, according to the OSHA Fact Sheet on Lockout/Tagout, from the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2002. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Title 29 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.


OSHA suggests the following steps for workplace safety:

  • Develop, implement and enforce an energy control program.
  • Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.
  • Provide effective training.

The standards establish requirements that employers much follow when employees are exposed to hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining equipment and machinery. Some of the most critical requirements from the standards as outlined in OSHA’s Fact Sheet are:

  • Develop, implement and enforce and energy control program.
  • Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. Tagout devices may be used in place of lockout devices only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.
  • Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, implement and enforce and effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, document, implement and enforce energy control procedures. [See the note to 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i) for an exception to the documentation requirements.]
  • Use only lockout/tagout devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized and substantial.
  • Ensure that lockout/tagout devices identify the individual users.
  • Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a lockout/tagout device to remove it [See 29 CFR 1910.147(e)(3) for exception.]
  • Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.
  • Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.
  • Comply with the additional energy control provision in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned, when outside contractors work at the site, in group lockout situations, and during shift or personnel changes.

The Lockout/Tagout Standard is a necessary provision, as it protects against the physical hazards that result in grave consequences due to the intense power of some machinery. Complying with OSHA’s lockout/tagout program not only protects employers from a violation citation but, more importantly, protects employees from serious physical hazards such as:

  • Shock and electrocution
  • Pinching
  • Crushing
  • Cuts and slices
  • Burns
  • Death

Don’t forget that once Lockout/Tagout has been done to “tryout” your work to ensure that the energy source has dissipated from the system. If you ever have questions about Lockout/Tagout, get someone who is familiar with the system to help you understand it. There is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your safety or the safety of your employees.

About The Author
Chantal Dale is a writer for Safety Partners, Ltd.

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