California workers are probably aware that OSHA has a standard for the control of hazardous energy, otherwise known as the lockout/tagout standard. Following this standard is critical to protecting those who operate machinery, but unfortunately, failure to do so is usually among the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations.
Employers must comply with the standard, and the first step they can take toward this end is to create an energy control program along with a written document to explain what it consists of. The program should lay out machine-specific procedures for controlling hazardous energy and for adding or removing lockout/tagout devices.
There are many lockout devices to choose from, so employers must choose ones that are appropriate for the equipment and easy to use. When locking out equipment, employees should notify others around it, review the written lockout procedure, shut off the machine, shut off and lock out all energy isolation controls, and dissipate the residual energy, which is the energy that can unexpectedly start up a machine and cause injury.
Employers must go beyond the annual inspection and audits to continually check for areas that could do with improvement. This is better than simply reacting whenever an accident occurs. Being proactive can lead to fewer injuries, reduced costs and greater productivity.
Workers repairing energized equipment who are injured through a release of that hazardous energy may be reimbursed. The workers’ compensation program is designed to provide wage replacement, cover all medical costs and even pay out special benefits for those with temporary or permanent disabilities. It may be a good idea to have a lawyer evaluate the case and take on every aspect of it since victims might meet with resistance from their employer. The lawyer may assist with any appeals.