- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 23, 2007
Mr. John A. Piatt
Worker Safety and Health
Pacific Northwest Labs
P.O. Box 999
Richland, WA 99352
Dear Mr. Piatt:
Thank you for your September 6, 2006, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs. You had questions regarding OSHA's Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout or LOTO) standard, 29 CFR 1910.147, as it relates to compressed gas cylinders. Your paraphrased inquiries and our response follow.
Question #1: OSHA identifies pneumatic energy as one source of hazardous energy. Are compressed gas cylinders that feed downstream systems subject to lockout/tagout (LOTO) requirements during activities where the cylinder valve is under the control of and within line-of-sight of the person performing the activity? Representative activities may include replacing gas cylinders that supply laboratory instruments or changing hoses, torches, and tips on gas welding/cutting systems.
Response: Yes, the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147 apply to gas cylinders. The contents of a compressed gas cylinder represent both pneumatic and, in the case of flammable gases, potential thermal energy. The fact that the cylinder valve is under the control of and within the line-of-sight of the person performing the servicing and/or maintenance does not provide protection equivalent to using proper LOTO procedures and devices and does not exempt the activity from the requirements of the standard.
Question #2: Can general awareness training of affected employees and other workers be satisfied and documented with a biennial article in a safety newsletter addressed to each individual employee? The content of the article would include the purpose of the lockout/tagout process, what the tags look like, and that removal of locks and tags is forbidden - the same information that is covered in our new employee training.
Response: No. The standard, at §1910.147(c)(7)(i)(B) requires that each affected employee be instructed in the purpose and the use of the energy control procedure. Furthermore, §1910.147(c)(7)(i)(C) requires that all other employees, whose work operations are or may be in an area where energy control procedures may be utilized, shall be instructed about the procedure and about attempts to restart or energize machines or equipment which are locked out or tagged out. An article in a newsletter does not provide the specificity required to train the affected and other employees on the use of the energy control procedures particular to their work area. Additionally, if there is a change in their job assignment or there is a change in their equipment or processes that present a new hazard or there is a change in the energy control procedures, the affected employees must receive retraining.1 See 29 CFR §1910.147(c)(7)(iii)(A). A biennial newsletter would be inadequate in providing this retraining.
Additionally, relying solely on a biennial article in a newsletter for training is problematic in several other ways. First, there is no way to ensure that each affected employee has read and understood the material. Second, this mode of training does not afford employees the opportunity to ask questions when the material is unfamiliar to them or may be ambiguous in certain areas. Industrial operations, and in particular hazardous energy control operations, can involve many complex and potentially hazardous tasks. It is imperative that employees be able to perform such tasks safely. On the other hand, OSHA believes that periodic articles in a newsletter can be used as part of an effective safety and health training program to help satisfy OSHA training requirements, if it's content provides employees with appropriate information and knowledge.
Question #3: Is a pre-job briefing that discusses the OSHA-required training elements for the specific job and the use of an "authorized employee" escort who provides on-the-job training on the placement of the lock and tag sufficient to comply with OSHA training requirements for authorized workers for the limited purpose of the single job a vendor/contractor is performing? Must the vendor/contractor go through our full lockout/tagout training which covers the entire scope of the lockout/tagout process for all energy sources?
Response: No, your suggested approach does not fulfill all the requirements for training employees in LOTO procedures as specified in §1910.147(c)(7). Outside servicing and maintenance personnel, such as contractors, service representatives, or employees from a temporary employment agency engaged in general industry activities are subject to the requirements of this standard, including those pertaining to training. Employees of outside contractors, if performing servicing and/or maintenance, are considered authorized employees, as defined by the standard at §1910.147(b). Their employer, the outside contractor, must ensure that they receive the training required by §1910.147(c)(7) for authorized employees. This training must include the recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources, the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and the methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control. If an employee of a contractor is not performing servicing and maintenance, but his or her work operations are or may be in an area where energy control procedures may be utilized, then, he or she is considered an affected employee, and the appropriate training requirements found at §1910.147(c)(7) would apply, and their employer is obligated to ensure the employee receives that training.
Additionally, §1910.147(f)(2)(i) requires on-site employers and outside employers to inform each other of their respective LOTO procedures. OSHA expects that, in most cases, the on-site employer and the outside contractors will exchange copies of their respective energy control procedures and may, when appropriate, have a discussion regarding relevant provisions (e.g., control measures for all hazardous energy sources potentially to be encountered) of the respective procedures. A pre-job briefing and an authorized employee escort that provides training on the procedures to be used for a specific task may partially satisfy the communication requirements of §1910.147(f)(2)(i), but these actions not relieve the contract employer of the responsibility to ensure his/her employee has received the training required in §1910.147(c)(7). An outside employer then would not be required to participate in a host employer's entire LOTO training program; however, the contractor must ensure that his/her employees understand and comply with the restrictions and prohibition of the on-site employer's energy control program.
As you may be aware, the State of Washington operates its own OSHA-approved occupational safety and health program through the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. DOSH enforces its own safety and health standards, which are at least as effective as OSHA's. Many of the State's standards are different from the Federal standards, and DOSH has also adopted some additional standards. DOSH's standards and other information are posted on its Web site at http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety. If you would like further information regarding Washington's occupational safety and health requirements, you may contact the State at the following address:
Steve Cant, Assistant Director
Division of Occupational Safety and Health
Washington Department of Labor and Industries
PO Box 44600
Olympia, Washington 98504-4600
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards, and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Enforcement at (202) 693-1850.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs
1 Authorized employees must also receive retraining per §1910.147(c)(7)(iii)(A) when these situations arise. Also, if the periodic inspections required under paragraph 1910.147(c)(6) of the section reveal, or whenever the employer has reason to believe, that there are deviations from or inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of the energy control procedure. See 29 CFR §1910.147(c)(7)(iii)(B). [ back to text ]