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The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to issue a request for information in April 2018 regarding potential updates to its lockout/tagout standard, a frequently cited violation that is increasingly deemed out of date.
The lockout/tagout regulation was created to allow workers to safely service and maintain machinery by requiring them to physically lock energy sources to prevent the equipment from starting up and potentially injuring workers. Advances in technology that incorporate computer-based control of hazardous energy are increasingly used in machines and conflict with OSHA’s existing lockout/tagout standard, which was adopted in 1989.
“The agency has recently seen an increase in requests for variances for these devices,” an OSHA spokeswoman said in an email Thursday. “Additionally, there are international standards harmonization concerns since this method of lockout/tagout is more accepted in other nations. In light of these developments, the agency plans to issue a Request for Information to learn more about the strengths and limitations of this new technology, as well as its potential hazards to workers.”
The American National Standards Institute updated its lockout/tagout standard in December 2016, but OSHA does not automatically go through a rule-making process each time a consensus standard is updated, the spokeswoman said. Instead, the agency considers rule-making when there are significant changes that could lead to worker safety and health improvements, the spokeswoman said.
Lockout/tagout violations are frequently cited following OSHA inspections. Last year, OSHA issued 3,406 lockout/tagout violations, making it the fifth-most cited violation.
An administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld citations against a Cameron, West Virginia-based Davis H. Elliot Co. Inc. after an electric shock resulted in the death of an employee.