OSHA releases the top 10 most frequently cited standard violations during federal work site inspections so employers can carefully mitigate the most common risks and oversights. Control of hazardous energy, also referred to as lockout/tagout (LOTO), was the fifth most frequently cited standard violation in 2018. What exactly is control of hazardous energy, and why is it so important to the safety of workers?
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines hazardous energy as “energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment that can be hazardous to workers.” This energy turns hazardous if it is unexpectedly released while service or maintenance is being performed on the machine or equipment. The unanticipated release of energy can cause severe injury– including electrocutions, burns, lacerations, and amputations– or even become fatal.
As a full service power line construction, pipeline construction, and specialty contractor serving the electric power line, pipeline, oil field electrical, and industrial markets, PLH Group companies work on electric power equipment every day. The 11 entities encompassed within PLH Group provide safe and reliable electric power to communities throughout the United States. Training and habitually practicing established LOTO practices and procedures safeguard PLH Group workers from injury.
“Safety risks and hazards must be mitigated in every industry. Since entities throughout our organization are responsible for the maintenance and servicing of electric power equipment and machinery, controlling hazardous energy is an essential part of our daily work,” said Elsie Bentley, vice president of Safety, Health and Environmental at PLH Group. “Therefore, all workers performing duties in an area where energy control procedures are necessary– even if not directly performing the work– are trained to understand our organization’s diligent lockout/tagout practices and procedures.”
The only way to keep the work site safe from hazardous energy is to ensure that all employees performing work in hazardous energy controlled areas understand the potential risks and how to prevent unexpected releases.
Those responsible for safeguarding against unexpected energy releases must also consistently integrate established LOTO procedures and practices into their work. This applies even to workers who do not directly service or maintain machinery and equipment, because they must still understand the importance of not restarting machinery or equipment that is tagged for LOTO.
PLH Group uses OSHA’s 10 most commonly cited workplace violation list, as well as other industry statistics and best practices, to ensure that employees recognize and understand all potential safety considerations. The more risks we identify and mitigate, the safer we keep our employees.