Servicing heavy machinery has been an extremely dangerous occupation for many years. In an attempt to reduce the possibility of injury or even death there have been standards created by OSHA and other groups to help limit the dangers. One of the main focuses of these standards was hazardous energy control. The idea is that when people are servicing machinery it is important to eliminate the power source so the machine can’t activate unexpectedly. Whether it is due to a power surge, a malfunction or someone powering it up unintentionally the energy going to the machine can create a big danger.
Each type of machine is different and will require different hazardous energy control protocols to ensure maximum safety of those who are servicing it. Ideally the power will be physically removed from the machine by detaching it from the supply. Removing any redundant or back up power is also essential for these procedures. There are excellent guidelines put out by OSHA, but it is also important that each facility make specific instructions for the different type of machinery they have.
Hazardous Energy Control Strategies
One of the most popular and effective strategies for hazardous energy control is known as the lockout/tagout system. This system has the person performing the maintenance remove the power from the machinery and then place a lock on it so it can’t be restored. The service individual will have the key to the lock so nobody can reconnect it until he has completed the maintenance he needed to do. When there is more than one service individual, they will each place a lock on it so they are both required for turning the power back on.
This may seem like an overbearing system at first, but when it comes to keeping the maintenance providers safe while fixing or updating machinery it is well worth the effort. In addition, when these policies are put in place properly it is simple to follow and does not take much time at all. When compared to the down time caused from an injury during maintenance it is easy to see how this can not only help ensure the safety of people, but also help keep machinery running well as much as possible.
Hazardous Energy Control Benefits
While the obvious benefit of any hazardous energy control policy, like Lockout/Tagout, is going to be that people are safer while performing the maintenance they need to do, that is really just the beginning. If a machine were to turn on unexpectedly during maintenance it could cause significant damage to the machine itself, even if people weren’t in any danger. One simple example is when the lubricants of a machine are removed to put fresh lubricant in, if the machine turned on at this point it could cause catastrophic damage to the internal mechanisms of the machine very quickly. There are, of course, many other problems which could occur if the energy is not properly controlled while service is being performed and that’s why these types of strategies are so essential.