Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers weigh in on workplace lockout/tagout errors. Lockout/tagout was once again listed on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) top 10 list of most frequently cited standards. Lockout/tagout procedures are controlled by OSHA regulations, which address the proper measures for controlling hazardous energies, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, and thermal energies. It is extremely important for employers and workers to follow the critical safety standards set forth in order to safeguard workers around equipment.

OSHA Lockout/Tagout Standard

Lockout/tagout is the process of disabling machinery or equipment during servicing and maintenance activities. It is a necessary procedure to prevent employees from being exposed to improperly released hazardous energy. Failure to perform lockout/tagout properly can cause serious injuries or even fatality.  The OSHA lockout/tagout standard allows employers to develop an energy control program that best suits the needs of their workplace and the equipment being serviced by affixing the appropriate device to energy-isolating devices, according to the procedure outlined by OSHA.

Approximately three million workers service workplace equipment and face the greatest risk of being exposed to hazardous energy. According to OSHA, an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries can be prevented each year by complying with the lockout/tagout standard. On average, workers who are injured from exposure to hazardous energy miss 24 days of work while recuperating.

Lockout/Tagout Requirements

Some OSHA lockout/tagout requirements that employers must follow to safeguard workers include:

  • Developing, documenting, implementing, and enforcing an energy control program and energy control procedures, which should be inspected annually.
  • Using lockout devices when possible and only using tagout devices in accordance with an effective tagout program if employee protection is equivalent to that of the lockout program.
  • Ensuring that equipment is capable of being locked out and that only lockout/tagout devices authorized for equipment is used.
  • Establishing policies that ensure lockout/tagout devices identify individual users and permit only the employee who applied the device to remove it.
  • Providing training for employees.
  • Complying with additional OSHA energy control provisions.

The most commonly cited OSHA violations of the lockout/tagout standard include procedure development and use, inspections, employee training, notification of the program, and removal of lockout/tagout devices. To avoid being cited, employers should create a written document outlining the elements of the energy control program. Explanations of the procedures for each machine should be specific and provide step-by-step instructions of how to shut down, isolate, block, and secure equipment to control hazardous energy and how to apply and remove lockout/tagout devices.

All employees covered by the standard should be trained and informed of OSHA requirements as well as any customized program elements, such as machine-specific procedures. Employers can mark locks and tags with an employee’s name or photo to prevent mistakes. An overall culture of safety must be established to help employees comply with lockout/tagout procedures, prevent workplace accidents, and increase productivity.

Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Workers Claim Compensation for Their Injuries

If you were injured during a lockout/tagout procedure or another workplace accident, contact the Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A.. We can help guide you through the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation system and fight to obtain the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 803-929-3600.

We serve clients throughout the state of South Carolina, including the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.