The energy sources that equipment or machines use can be hazards for workers. Some of these sources are chemical, electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, pneumatic and thermal. Minnesota workers who are maintaining or servicing equipment or machines could suffer serious injuries or fatalities if hazardous energy is not controlled. Approximately 3 million workers routinely service equipment and risk being injured every day, including craft workers, electricians, laborers and machine operators.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has outlined a series of practices and procedures to control hazardous energy, which is the cause of almost 10 percent of the serious work accidents in several industries. The agency’s lockout and tagout standards establish the measures necessary for controlling hazardous energy and safeguarding workers.
OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy is an LOTO standard for industries in general and outlines the specific procedures for each different type of hazardous energy. It also outlines requirements for employers, including that they must train all employees and make sure that they know, comprehend and can follow the provisions. The standard requires that workers receive training on the function and purpose of the hazardous energy control program and that they have the necessary skills for applying, using and removing control devices safely. Additionally, workers must understand that trying to reenergize or restart equipment or machines that are tagged or locked out is prohibited.
The LOTO standard also states that authorized workers must receive training in how to recognize the sources of hazardous energy, the magnitude and types of energy, and the methods and means of controlling or isolating the energy in the workplace. Furthermore, it requires employers to retrain all workers to introduce changed or new control methods or to maintain proficiency.
Most workers who are injured on the job because of poor hazardous energy control may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation. An attorney who has experience with these types of matters can explain the benefits that are available for victims of workplace injuries and can also be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the claim.