Many people who work with heavy machinery or equipment have heard the term “Lockout/Tagout” used within the workplace. Lockout/Tagout is a procedure which refers to the control of hazardous energy. Lockout/Tagout was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and was implemented in 1989 as a standard adopted to protect workers from unexpected startup of machinery or release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance.
Specifically, 1910.147(a)(1)(i) states:
“This standard covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees. This standard establishes minimum performance requirements for the control of such hazardous energy.”
As indicated above, this standard establishes the minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy. Accordingly, employers should use the OSHA guidelines of Lockout/Tagout as the foundation for developing in-house procedures to protect their employees and other workers. Research shows that compliance with Lockout/Tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.
What Is the Application of the Lockout/Tagout Standard?
As explained by OSHA, this standard applies to the control of energy during servicing and/or maintenance of machines and equipment.
This can include:
- Servicing and/or maintenance which takes place during normal production operations if:
- An employee is required to remove or bypass a guard or other safety device; or
- An employee is required to place any part of his or her body into an area on a machine or piece of equipment where work is actually performed upon the material being processed (point of operation) or where an associated danger zone exists during a machine operating cycle.
Examples where lockout/tagout procedures should be used:
- Making repairs to electrical components to a piece of heavy equipment
- Changing a component on a hydraulic press
- Changing a blade to a saw
- Replacing a motor to a crane
- Labeling a piece of equipment as unsafe
- Cleaning shavings or scale from a die or press
What is the OSHA Definition of a Lockout/Tagout device?
The definition of a Lockout/Tagout device is: “A device that utilizes a positive means such as a lock, either key or combination type, to hold an energy-isolating device in the safe position and prevent the energizing of a machine or equipment.
Significant Requirements of a Lockout/Tagout procedure required under a Lockout/Tagout Program
All employers should develop, implement, and train its employees regarding proper lockout tagout procedures within the workplace. Doing so not only protects the employees, but it also protects contractors who may be hired to perform specialized work at the facility. Important requirements of a Lockout/Tagout procedure are:
- Only authorized employees may lockout or tagout machines or equipment in order to perform servicing or maintenance.
- Lockout devices (locks) and tagout devices shall not be used for any other purposes and must be used only for controlling energy.
- Lockout and Tagout devices (locks and tags) must identify the name of the worker applying the device.
- All energy sources to equipment must be identified and isolated.
- After the energy is isolated from the machine or equipment, the isolating device(s) must be locked out or tagged out in a safe or off position only by the authorized employees.
- Following the application of the lockout or tagout devices to the energy isolating devices, the stored or residual energy must be safely discharged or relieved.
- Prior to starting work on the equipment, the authorized employee shall verify that the equipment is isolated from the energy source, for example, by operating the on/off switch on the machine or equipment.
- Lock and tag must remain on the machine until the work is completed.
- Only the authorized employee who placed the lock and tag must remove his/her lock or tag unless the employer has a specific procedure as outlined in OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard.
What Rights Do I Have Under OSHA?
- Ask OSHA to inspect your workplace
- Exercise your legal rights without retaliation and discrimination
- Report workplace injuries
- Secure information and training, in a language that you understand, about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to your workplace
- Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Receive copies of your medical records
What Should I Do If I Was Injured On The Job?
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or tragically killed in relation to a lockout/tagout procedure, you may be entitled to compensation. The work injury attorneys at Morrow and Sheppard LLP are experienced with these kinds of cases and can provide you with legal guidance during these difficult times. Discuss your legal rights with us for a free, confidential consultation, call 800-489-2216, or fill out our online contact form today.