Safetip #149: Document Sources of Hazardous Energy
Lockout/Tagout Standard Is Frequently Cited by OSHA
When machines or equipment are being serviced or maintained, stored energy can be released during an unexpected startup, which can harm workers. Lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures protect workers by requiring that hazardous energy sources be isolated and made inoperative before work starts on a machine or equipment. This is done by placing a lockout device that isolates the energy source, or a tagout device instead of a lockout device if it provides equivalent protection.
OSHA’s LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147) consistently ranks among the top 10 most frequently cited violations by the agency. Not only is the LOTO standard in the top 10, but it has been in the top five for the last five consecutive years. This shows that LOTO procedures should be high on the priority list of EHS, Safety and Plant managers.
Document Sources of Hazardous Energy
Members from the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Manufacturing Sector Council reviewed, adapted and compiled resources to help companies with their lockout program. Important characteristics and considerations were also highlighted for hazardous energy control procedures. One of them consists of documenting sources of energy.
Regardless of the level of complexity of your program, you need to document each source of energy, NORA says. This involves listing all sources of hazardous energy, with machine-specific information. You should assess the hazardous energy within a machine such as hydraulic pressure (tanks and lines) and compressed air. Also, gases that are pressurized, or are asphyxiants or poisons, need to be controlled. According to NORA, sources of energy include, but are not limited to:
- Capacitors (ground out and drain)
- Pressurized or Pneumatic
- Chemical (e.g. acids, explosives)
- Explosive gases and dusts
- Asphyxiants (e.g. nitrogen)
- Heat sources
- Cold sources
- Gravity (things falling from height or roll)
- Static electricity – Can build up in processes especially with dust
Remember to identify and document sources of energy for all sites throughout your organization. Once this is done, identify the type of operations that require lockout, and determine which employees are authorized to conduct lockout.
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