May 30, 2019

OSHA Considers Possible Updates to Lockout/Tagout Standard

OSHA is considering whether to initiate rulemaking that would revise its standard on the control of hazardous energy, also known as OSHA’s lockout/tagout standard. In a request for information published last week, OSHA describes two areas where the agency hopes to gather public comment: control circuit type devices and robotics.

OSHA’s standard, which was issued in 1989, requires that all sources of energy be controlled during the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device, or EID. According to the agency, control circuit type devices are specifically excluded from the OSHA definition of an EID and are not a compliant method of controlling hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. However, OSHA believes that these devices may now be “at least as safe as EIDs” in some circumstances due to technological advances since the standard’s issuance. The agency’s RFI seeks information, data, and comments that would help OSHA determine under what conditions control circuit type devices could safely be used for the control of hazardous energy.

As employers increasingly use robots and robotic components in workplaces, OSHA may also consider changes to the lockout/tagout standard to address hazardous energy control for new robotics technologies. The agency’s RFI specifically asks for information related to the hazards and benefits of robotics regarding the control of hazardous energy, safeguards that can be used, and other comments concerning employee safety when interfacing with robots.

A complete list of OSHA’s questions related to the RFI is available in the Federal Register notice. The comment period for this RFI will close on Aug. 19, 2019. Instructions for submitting comments are also available in the Federal Register.