What Every Construction Worker Needs to Know About Machinery Lockouts


In the construction industry, a lockout is defined as a physical barrier installed to protect against the activation of an energized piece of equipment. When discussing lockouts, tagouts are also important. Tagouts are simply defined as a tag placed on a piece of machinery that warns workers against activation.

Normally occurring just after lockouts, tagouts serve to notify anyone on the construction site that a certain piece of equipment should not be started. Often, this is because someone is actively working on that piece of machinery. Tagouts usually accompany lockouts, however, they do not serve as an appropriate substitute. Both should be used together.

Construction workers run the risk of sustaining injuries while servicing and performing maintenance on machines, and the risk goes up significantly in the event of an unexpected startup or release of stored energy. According to OSHA, proper lockout procedures protect construction workers from the sudden release of hazardous energy. Lockouts protect workers from the hazardous energy sources like:

  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Hydraulic
  • Chemical
  • Thermal
  • Pneumatic

OSHA reports that close to 10% of all serious accidents among construction workers and other labor industries is a result of the failure to control hazardous energy. These accidents may have been preventable if the appropriate lockout/tagout procedures had been followed.

If hazardous energy is not properly controlled, construction workers who service or maintain machinery can sustain severe or even fatal injuries. Injuries from lockout failures can include:

  • Electrocution
  • Burns
  • Crushing
  • Cutting
  • Lacerating
  • Amputating
  • Fracturing body parts

OSHA estimates that about 3 million workers who perform maintenance on machines and equipment routinely face the highest threat of injury. OSHA has established a lockout/tagout standard that explains the employer’s responsibility to protect their workers against the threat of hazardous energy. In addition, OSHA has established that employers are required to train every worker on site appropriately, so that workers know and are able to follow the correct procedures for hazardous energy control.

OSHA Requirements for Lockouts:

  • Workers must be trained in the function of the energy control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All workers in the area where energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose, use, and prohibition against restarting or reenergizing machines that are locked or tagged out.
  • All workers authorized to lockout machines and perform maintenance need to be trained to recognize potential hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of energy found, and the methods of isolating and controlling the energy.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed lockout/tagout and control methods.

Machinery lockouts and tagouts are only part of the solution to prevent hazardous energy release. Communication is the real key, and that includes educating every worker on site about the appropriate lockout/tagout procedures.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a construction machinery lockout accident, the best thing you can do is contact a personal injury attorney today. Call the Sweeney Law Firm and let us review your case. You may be eligible for compensation. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.


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