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Hazardous Energy Lockout Tagout

Monday, August 13, 2012
Hazardous Energy Lockout Tagout

The consequences of failure to effectively lockout/tagout equipment can be catastrophic. The best example of this occurred at a forging facility in Houston, Texas on December 22, 1996. Eight workers were killed. A crew of ten maintenance workers was performing work on a 40 foot high pressurized nitrogen tank for a 35 ton forging press. They believed that the pressure had been bled from the tank prior to beginning work. When 2-inch bolts were removed from a 3-foot square lid it blew off, ripping a 40 by 50 foot hole in the factory roof. Five of the workers were blown off of the top of the tank.

How could this have been prevented? The OSHA proposed penalty was $1,803,500. The citation that OSHA issued had 34 items listed, including:

  • Failure to provide appropriate hardware for isolating, securing, or blocking of machines or equipment from energy sources
  • The hazardous energy control procedures (HECP) did not clearly and specifically outline the scope, purpose, authorization, rules, and techniques to be used for the control of hazardous energy
  • The employer failed to effectively train each authorized employee
  • The employer did not conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually.

Another example that illustrates the need for the use of HECP and effective communication between host employers and contractors occurred at a printing company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on December 22, 2002. The contractor was severely burned by a release of steam from a line that he believed had been de-energized. He died from the burns. Both employers were cited with the printing company paying $55,000 as the host employer and the contractor paying $3,325. The OSHA items common to both citations included:

  • Lack of a compliant energy control program
  • Absence of a suitable hazardous energy control procedure (HECP)
  • Failure to provide appropriate hardware for isolating, securing, or blocking of machines or equipment from energy sources
  • The onsite employer and the outside employer did not inform each other of their respective lockout or tag out procedures.

Failure to protect your employees from the unexpected release of energy can obviously have significant adverse consequences. 1Source Safety and Health, Inc. can help you to properly address this exposure by helping you to develop and implement compliant energy control programs, develop equipment-specific HECP, and providing training. For additional information or support contact Colin J. Brigham, CIH, CSP, CPE, CPEA at cbrigham@1ssh.com or 610-524-5525, ext. 24.



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