In the cumulative experience of author is that, to date, the majority of U.S. employers still struggle to maintain a consistently effective lockout/tagout protocol with their workers, contractors, and vendors. Driven by the limited guidance provided by regulatory requirements only, compliance is very difficult to routinely achieve.

The latest version of the ANSI/ASSE Control of Hazardous Energy Lockout, Tagout and Alternative Methods standard, released in December 2016, is a well-resourced and progressive look at how to include well-described energy control practices into daily productive operations. This appeals to employers who seek to understand how to improve their energy-related protective practices and resonates with people whose work exposes them to the hazards of sudden machine startup. The newly revised Z244 standard speaks to these needs by offering comprehensive information on the latest methodology and how to accomplish across all industries, and especially in your workplace.

How the New ANSI Z244 Standard influences the Practice of Lockout/Tagout and Alternative Methods

Certainly, the methods of protecting workers against the sudden startup of machinery have evolved greatly over the years. The most often referenced source of lockout/tagout information is OSHA's 29 CFR1910.147 regulation, which came out in 1989. It was based heavily on ANSI's original Z244.1 Lockout Standard first published in 1982. We have come a long way since then in terms of technology and new methods, but there certainly is a long way to go. Each year OSHA publishes its Top 10 Most Cited Violations and again, for Fiscal 2016, lockout was ranked fifth (with very similar outcomes as 2015) in terms of the particular rules that were cited and value of the citations issued. Heightened self-reporting requirements for serious injuries and fatalities are bringing more violations to OSHA's attention, and it seems that many U.S. employers are coming to an understanding that these types of accidents continue to occur with significant frequency and often with great severity.

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