Safetip #13: Identify All Hazardous Energy Sources
A LOTO Program Protects Workers From Hazardous Energy Releases
When dangerous machines are not properly shut off, they can be started up again before maintenance or servicing work is completed. The unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious worker injury or fatality. LOTO is a safety procedure to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not able to be started up again. In our Safetip #4, we highlighted the need to write machine- or equipment-specific LOTO procedures.
There Are Many Different Sources of Hazardous Energy
According to the BLR report 10 Tips to Implementing a Lockout/Tagout Program, LOTO programs make the common mistake of only identifying a machine’s main power source, generally its electrical power source, and neglect to identify other potential sources of hazardous energy that can cause equipment to move unexpectedly or that could suddenly release energy that could harm workers.
The BLR report mentions the following sources of potentially hazardous energy that should also be identified when writing LOTO procedures:
- Mechanical energy. Energy created by a machine’s moving parts, like wheels, springs or elevated parts.
- Hydraulic energy. The energy of pressurized, moving liquids, usually water or oil, in accumulators or lines.
- Pneumatic energy. The energy of pressurized, moving gas, as found in air in tanks and lines.
- Chemical energy. Energy created by a chemical reaction between two or more substances.
- Thermal energy. Heat energy; most commonly, steam energy.
- Stored energy. Energy stored in batteries and capacitors.
Be sure to think beyond electrical power, and consider all other potential hazardous energy sources when drafting LOTO procedures.
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