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Top OSHA Workplace Violations – Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) General Industry – Regulation 29 CFR 1910.147

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.147

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 2,839

Total inspections: 1,617

Total proposed penalties: $15,732,317

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 5

Industries most often violating LOTO standard:

Food Mfg. $2.9 million (in proposed penalties)

Plastics and Rubber Products Mfg. $1.8 million

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $1.6 million

Wood Product Mfg. $836,574

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg. $787,787

Paper Mfg. $696,444

Machinery Mfg. $610,391

Chemical Mfg. $583,117

Transportation Equipment Mfg. $540,211

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $477,499

What is hazardous energy?

Energy sources, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death to workers.

What are the harmful effects of hazardous energy?

Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal. Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, fracturing body parts and others.

Examples include:

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking worker who is repairing the equipment.

Workers Most at Risk

Craft workers, electricians, machine operators and laborers are among the millions of workers who service equipment routinely and face the greatest risk of injury.

What can be done to control hazardous energy?

  • Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy-control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All employees who work in an area where energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s), especially prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or other equipment that are locked or tagged out.
  • All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace; the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace; and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.

Why is controlling hazardous energy sources important?

Employees servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be exposed to serious physical harm or death if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Compliance with the LOTO standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

What do employees need to know?

Employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy-control procedures. The training must cover at least three areas: aspects of the employer’s energy control program; elements of the energy control procedure relevant to the employee’s duties or assignment; and the various requirements of the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout.

What must employers do to protect employees?

  • Develop, implement and enforce an energy control program.
  • Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. Tagout devices may be used in lieu of lockout devices, only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.
  • Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, implement and enforce an effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, document, implement and enforce energy control procedures. [See the note to 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i) for an exception to the documentation requirements.]
  • Use only LOTO devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized and substantial.
  • Ensure that LOTO devices identify the individual users.
  • Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a LOTO device to remove it. [See 29 CFR 1910.147(e)(3) for exception.]
  • Inspect energy-control procedures at least annually.
  • Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.
  • Comply with the additional energy control provisions in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned; when outside contractors work at the site; in group lockout situations; and during shift or personnel changes.


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