The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the reaffirmation of ANSI Z244.1-2003, Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout/Tagout and Alternative Methods, which aims to protect workers from hazardous energy associated with machines, equipment or processes that could cause injury.
Approved Nov. 11, 2008, the standard establishes requirements and performance objectives for procedures, techniques, designs and methods that protect workers where injury can occur due to unexpected releases of hazardous energy. An unexpected release of hazardous energy includes any unintended motion, start-up or release of stored energy, deliberate or otherwise, from the perspective of the person at risk.
According to the standard, lockout/tagout is the main method of hazardous energy control. However, when tasks performed on the job are routine, repetitive and integral to the production process, or traditional lockout/tagout prohibits the completion of those tasks, the standard indicates that alternative methods of control that provide effective personal protection and are based on risk assessment specified in the standard shall be used.
Routine, repetitive and integral production processes refer to tasks that are short in duration; relatively minor in nature; occur frequently during the shift day or week; are usually performed by operators, set-up, service or maintenance personnel; and do not involve extensive disassembly.
“A great deal of technical development and capabilities have evolved since the 1982 edition of the standard,” said Jeff Fryman, Z244 Committee vice chairman. “These new technologies make the control of hazardous energy both more complex and easier to achieve. It is more complex because the traditional ‘zero energy state’ lockout situation may not be achievable, or desirable, and it is easier because the technology offers more solutions to control hazardous energy release through new devices and circuit designs.”
Fryman added that in his opinion, “the greatest offering in the standard is the information on the use of ‘alternative methods’ to control hazardous energy. Based on the results of risk assessment, workers are afforded more protection and flexibility in performing necessary tasks on machines, equipment and processes.”
On the impact of the standard on business and industry, Z244 Committee Chair Edward V. Grund, CSP, P.E., said, “Companies that are interested in moving beyond mere compliance will be able to use the standards to enhance their current practices. In addition, multinational companies can use the standard offshore as an effective guide for their international operations, particularly when local regulation is absent or weak.”