Whenever contractors and other outside servicing personnel perform tasks covered by the Lockout/Tagout standard, they must adhere to all the OSHA standard's requirements. The host employer and the contractor or outside employer must inform each other of the other's respective lockout or tagout procedures.
The host employer and the contractor must understand one another's lockout and tagout procedures. Make sure you review the contractor's energy-control program before the contractor does any on-site work. The host employer's workers must also understand and comply with the contractor's energy-control program.
Note: If you hire a one-person "independent contractor," he or she may claim they do not have to comply with State or Federal OSHA standards. They may be right, if they are not required to participate in a workers' compensation system. However, that does not relieve you, as the general or host employer, from legal liability. Make sure you require all contractors, no matter what their business status is, to adhere, at a minimum, to OSHA standards. If the contractor puts up a fuss, I personally would not do business with the contractor.
If the sub-contractor is using their own LOTO procedures, the on-site general contractor or host employer must ensure that his or her workers understand and comply with the restrictions and prohibitions of the contractor or outside employer's energy control program.
In many workplaces a group of authorized workers may need to service equipment that has several energy sources and several energy-isolating devices. In these instances, group lockout may be used.
Under group lockout, protection must be used which affords the employees a level of protection equivalent to that provided by the implementation of a personal lockout or tagout device.
The primary responsibility for a set number of employees working under the protection of a group lockout or tagout device must be vested in a single authorized employee. In other words, just one designated person in the group assumes responsibility for securing each energy-isolating device.
However, each authorized employee should be assured of his or her right to personally verify that the hazardous energy has been isolated and/or de-energized.
There are a number of variations in group lockout; the group lockbox variation reduces the number of locks and makes it easier for workers to coordinate their activities.
If there will be more than one crew, department, or group involved in the activity, a single authorized employee must be designated to coordinate affected workforces and to ensure continuity of protection. For these more complicated energy-control systems, group lockout can reduce the number of lockout devices that workers must use.
Example: Ten workers do maintenance on a machine that has five individual energy sources that need to be isolated.
Group lockout can also reduce the risk of injury for service and maintenance workers, contractors, and other affected workers who don't regularly work with complicated energy-control systems.
Master Lockbox: The lockbox into which all keys and tabs from the lockout or tagout devices securing the machine or equipment are inserted and which would be secured by a "job-lock" during multi-shift operations.
A high percentage of accidents occur shortly after a shift change and are often due to a lack of communication. Therefore, employers must make sure that there is a continuity of lockout or tagout protection. This includes the orderly transfer of lockout or tagout device protection between outgoing and incoming shifts to control hazardous energy.
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Watch these informative videos produced by OSHA. Just goes to show you what can happen if you're not careful.