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Understanding Lockout/Tagout Procedure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides employers with standards for operations to promote safe, healthy workplaces when enforced. Many of these standards can help guard against the hazards found in public works jobs. They include Standard No. 1910.147, the energy control program, known as “lockout/tagout.”

Lockout/tagout refers to the processes that employees need to use to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment while they service or maintain the equipment. The procedures also aim to prevent the unexpected release of hazardous energy, whether it be electrical, mechanical, kinetic, hydraulic, pneumatic or thermal.

Lockout/tagout procedures require that employees either lock or tag energy-isolating devices and also take steps to verify that they have isolated the energy that could harm them. Lockout devices require a key or other unlocking mechanism. Tagout devices warn employees not to reenergize a machine during service or maintenance. 

OSHA Standard 1910.147(c)(6)(i) requires employers to conduct inspections at least annually. The inspections aim to make sure that employees are following lockout/tagout procedures and requirements. The employee conducting the inspections cannot be someone that works in a job that must follow the procedures under inspection. 

SC OSHA often counts failure to maintain an energy control program on its list of the most frequently cited OSHA standards during inspections. In 2019, failure to use a lockout/tagout program was the fourth-most frequently cited standard. Even so, it’s not the only high-incidence area. Failure to provide written hazard communication programs, employee hazard communication programs and machine guarding are the first three most frequently cited standards. Also, violations of permit-required confined spaces regulations, electrical safety, and trenching and shoring exposures also present safety hazards in cities. Learn more at www.osha.gov and scosha.lloronline.com. 

SC Municipal Insurance Trust members have access to several risk management training videos, including Required Annual Inspection Energy Control Procedure, addressing lockout/tagout procedures. The other videos released so far are Fall Protection, addressing those safety measures that are is required for employees working on any platform of as least 4 feet in height, and Heat Stress, which covers the symptoms, prevention and treatment.