SafeTech Consulting Group of Edmonton, Alberta has been a leader in OH&S (occupational health and safety) services such as safety management and an innovator in safety management systems

Hazardous Energy Control Programs

SafeTech Consulting Group Ltd. - Monday, May 02, 2016

In certain areas, hazardous energy is the cause of one in ten serious workplace injuries and the average recovery period for a workplace injury caused by hazardous energy is 24 days. With this in mind, it is in the best interest of employers and employees to control this workplace risk. 

The first step is identifying sources of hazardous energy. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) defines hazardous energy as: "any electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, chemical, nuclear, thermal, gravitational, or other energy that can harm people"; however, it is not always so simple to identify all potential sources of hazardous energy. Some are clearly visible, such as electricity or falling objects, but others are less obvious, such as high pressure or tension in a system. 

Common types of energy in the workplace can be divided into:

primary, such as:

  • Electrical energy – either live or stored (i.e. batteries)
  • Chemical energy – energy released during a chemical reaction (i.e. explosion)
  • Radiation energy – from electromagnetic sources (i.e., light, ultraviolet, x rays)

and/or potential, such as:

  • Mechanical energy – when an object is stored under tension (i.e. a tightly coiled spring)
  • Hydraulic energy – potential energy when liquid is stored under pressure
  • Pneumatic energy – potential energy when air is stored under pressure
  • Gravitational energy - potential energy from objects that may fall to the ground

Hazardous energy controls should provide isolate the system in question from its primary power source and contain the potential or residual energy in that system.

While most machinery and equipment will have lockout devices built in, it is important to note that hazardous energy controls encompass a broader range of procedures than simply locking out. Lockout involves the use of an energy isolating device during normal operation and is one way to control hazardous energy. When the machinery or equipment is being maintained or repaired, the lockout device often doesn’t function and this is when the broader hazardous energy controls will come into play.

A hazardous energy control program should address the risks of accidental release of potential energy, unintentional start up or restarting of equipment, which may also lead to unexpected movement, and exposure to hazardous energy when safeguards used in normal operation are removed. 

 In order to devise an effective hazardous energy control program, you must:

  • Fully understand the system, including the design and function of all of its parts
  • Break down all the tasks to be performed by the system
  • Consider where the system may be misused
  • Analyse the risks associated with each task, as well as with potential misuse
  • Provide controls to deal with each of the risks identified
  • Train all employees and contractors who may be exposed to the hazards inherent in working with the system in the effective implementation of these controls.

At SafeTech Consulting Group Ltd., we are well-versed in the intricacies of controlling hazardous energy. We are passionate about assisting you in protecting your greatest asset - your employees.

For more information on how we can assist you, contact us today.

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