Lockout/Tagout: ANSI Standard Updates
A recent article in EHS Today took a look at the current approach to lockout/tagout compliance by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the new methodology that an updated ANSI standard is looking at to incorporate best practices for today’s equipment and technologies.
OSHA currently has a policy – adopted by many employers and organizations – that a “zero risk blanket approach” is necessary to prevent injuries. The ANSI/ASSE Z244.1 Committee is moving in a new direction, according to Todd Grover, global senior manager for applied safety solutions at Master Lock, and a member of the committee. The new standard, he said, “Is not an effort to comply one-on-one with the OSHA standard.” Instead, he said that, “The committee addresses what’s really going on in the workplace. When power must be present, there are responsible ways to protect people and the standard brings greater awareness to that.”
Grover said that the OSHA standard – Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry – has remained static (with multiple letters of interpretation), while the technology found in the machines being manufactured today has advanced. The traditional approach to lockout/tagout – completely shutting down machinery – might not be the best option for some of today’s equipment or for some of the operations maintenance personnel and operators need to perform.
The new ANSI standard takes into consideration the fact that there might be situations in the workplace where unique applications of energy control are both necessary and risk acceptable. Grover said that approximately one-third of the new standard addresses alternative methods of control and machine design.
Grover says that the reality is that one out of 10 employers have what he says is a “credible” lockout program, one that goes beyond simple OSHA compliance. Another 60% do their best to meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147. The final 30% have no lockout program whatsoever.
The latest revision of ANSI/ASSE Z244.1 is based on what Grover calls best practices in manufacturing. “We had some spirited debates about what constitutes ‘best practices,’” he said, “but we came to a good consensus.”
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