Keeping workers safe from hazardous energy
Hazardous energy is present in many workplace environments in Maryland and across the country. Several million workers routinely deal with hazardous energy, and when one is injured an average of 24 workdays are lost while the employee recovers. In addition, hazardous energy-related accidents account for roughly 10 percent of all serious accidents in many industries.
Hazardous energy comes from chemical, thermal, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and electrical sources generated from equipment and machines. Employees can be severely injured or killed when the machines they are maintaining or repairing suddenly and unexpectedly release an uncontrolled buildup of hazardous energy.
Some of the severe injuries workers may suffer from becoming exposed to hazardous energy include body fractures, lacerations, cuts, burns and electrocution. For instance, an employee repairing a piece of equipment can be seriously burned if the machine’s steam valve automatically turns on, or the employee can be shocked if there is a short in the equipment’s electrical wiring system. Likewise, jammed conveyor systems can suddenly release and crush employers while they are clearing the jam.
To keep these types of workplace injuries from occurring, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires general industries with hazardous energy dangers to properly control hazardous energy through the inclusion of proper lockout and tagout procedures and practices. These standards teach employees how to disable equipment and machinery to prevent the release of hazardous energy.
Like any other type of job, owners of industrial work sites are legally responsible to provide a healthful and safe work environment for their employees. Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage in the event that a worker is injured on the job, and an attorney can often assist such a worker with the preparation and filing of the required claim for benefits.
Source: OSHA, “Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)”, accessed on Jan. 29, 2016
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