Lockout/Tagout in the News

Lockout/tagout accidents occur when employers fail to implement and enforce a lockout/tagout program and when employees fail to follow the procedures and guidelines outlined in the energy control policy.

For more examples of industry violations and fines, visit our News page, Lockout/Tagout Violations.

Common program errors include:

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Failing to create and document machine-specific energy control (lockout-tagout) procedures.

Many facilities do not have lockout/tagout procedures or fail to provide the procedures to the employees. Other times, a company’s lockout procedure is a checklist of possible sources, requiring the authorized employee to determine which energy sources are hazardous.

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Utilizing a single generic procedure for the entire facility.

Some employers create a general list of shutdown steps. While steps for isolation are useful, it is not enough. The procedure must also include machine-specific information regarding the exact energy sources that need to be isolated.

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Employers failing to properly train employees on hazardous energy sources and methods of isolation.

Authorized employees need to be trained on the OSHA standard. They must be able to recognized hazardous energy sources and know the risks associated with each source. Employees must be trained on the proper techniques used for energy isolation and know how to use the written procedure. They must be trained on the specific machines they will be servicing. Finally, the employee must know what to do if they feel the written procedure is inadequate.

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Employees bypassing safety guards without performing lockout.

Employees need to understand what tasks can be accomplished without locking out the machine and which tasks can’t. Any time an employee places part of their body in harm’s way and/or bypasses a guard, lockout must be used.

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Only isolating some energy sources (usually the main electrical), but not all.

Sometimes the written procedure fails to identify all hazardous energy sources. Other times, the authorized employee chooses not to lock out all energy sources, believing it’s unnecessary. The lockout procedure must be complete and used properly every time.

Commonly missed: Other electrical sources, chemicals, air, water, & steam.

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Failing to dissipate residual energy before servicing.

Lockout/tagout procedures must list any sources of stored or residual energy. Employees must take steps to dissipate the stored energy or wait the appropriate amount of time. Employees may skip these steps when they are rushing.

Commonly missed: Moving parts, heavy loads, hydraulic energy, and heat.

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Entering confined spaces without utilizing lockout and other safety measures.

Lockout/tagout and confined space goes hand in hand. Most confined spaces will need to be locked out prior to entry. The confined space permit should specify this necessity.

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Employees forgetting to verify the lockout before servicing.

The most important step is the verification step. The employee should always check that the lockout was done properly and no additional energy sources are present. Without verifying the lockout, there is no assurance it was done properly.

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