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Throughout every industry there are numerous energy sources being utilized, these include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment. While each of these sources of energy are essential to the operations of that industry and organization, they can all be hazardous to workers. Employees utilizing, servicing or maintaining these energy sources through the operation and maintenance of machines or equipment, can be seriously injured or even killed if this hazardous energy is not properly controlled.
What is Hazardous Energy?
In every work environment, there are energy sources that can be hazardous to workers. These energy sources can include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources of energy such as spring driven or suspended parts. Some of these energy sources can be turned on or off, while others can only be dissipated or controlled.
What is Lockout / Tagout?
Lockout/Tagout is a specific set of practices and procedures, typically utilizing physical locks, tags and devices to safeguard employees from the unexpected energizing or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. While there are many sizes, types and forms of Lockout/Tagout devices utilized throughout varying industries, there are four main categories of Lockout/Tagout devices that it is critical for all employees working in the vicinity of hazardous energy sources to recognize and identify.
An authorized employee is a person authorized to apply and remove lockout/tagout devices within the workplace. Typically these employees are responsible for the service and maintenance of facility equipment and machinery. When performing a lockout/tagout procedure, authorized employees are also required to complete a specific step by step process to ensure that machinery and equipment is properly secured before, during and after any maintenance or repair work is performed.
Most employees tasked with the day-to-day operations of any business or organization are affected employees. Affected employees should be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedures by an Authorized Employee. An affected employee becomes an authorized employee when duties include performing service or maintenance while exposed to potentially hazardous energy.