Q: What are lockout and tagout procedures?
Machines and equipment must be serviced periodically. When they're fueled by electrical, chemical, thermal, hydraulic, mechanical, or another other form of hazardous energy, then there are significant safety risks for workers.
Federal regulations provide specific guidelines that must be followed when working with hazardous energy to prevent electrocution and other injuries.
Multiple people often work on the same job site, and communication is critical for everyone’s safety. You may have turned off the machine you're working on, but think about what could happen if someone else were to turn it back on before you were done.
Lockout and tagout procedures are meant to provide this type of miscommunication that leads to serious and fatal injuries. Specifically:
- Lockout procedures hold a machine in a safe or off position. If possible, only the person who's working on the machine should have the ability to unlock it. This prevents other people from accidentally turning on its power source.
- Tagout procedures a secondary safety measure if a machine can't be locked. Distinctive warning tags are placed at the on switch or energy source so that other people know not to turn on the power.
Your employer should follow mandated lockout procedures whenever possible, and tagout procedures when certain equipment or machines can't be locked for service. Additionally, you should expect your employer to supply the proper equipment and conduct thorough training to ensure everyone can implement lockout or tagout procedures.
Failure to Follow Lockout/Tagout Procedures is Common
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifies its ten most serious violations. In 2018, the failure to follow lockout/tagout procedures was fifth on this list—with 2,384 violations identified.
If you're hurt or your loved one is killed while working on a piece of machinery, then it's important to understand your rights. You deserve to recover from this significant harm. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.