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.

August 5, 2015

Walter R. Brewton
524 Riverwood Drive
Crestview, FL 32536

Dear Mr. Brewton:

Thank you for your January 16, 2015, correspondence to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA), Directorate of Enforcement Programs, regarding the lockout and tagout requirements in 29 CFR 1910, Subpart S. You had seven specific questions, which are listed below, with our responses.

Scenario 1: We have electrical workers who install, maintain, repair and replace premises wiring systems in our facilities. The employees will routinely encounter situations where they may work on or near energized conductors.

Question 1: Will it be acceptable for the employees to use a copy of 29 CFR 1910.333(b) as their written procedure for work that is defined in 29 CFR 1910, Subpart S?

Response: Yes, §1910.147(a)(1)(ii)(D) requires the lockout or tagout of electrical hazards for work on, near, or with conductors or equipment in electric-utilization installations, be done in accordance with §1910, Subpart S. The note to §1910.333(b)(2)(i), in Subpart S, allows an employer to use a copy of § 1910.333(b) as their written procedures, provided the conductors and/or parts of electric equipment have been locked-out or tagged-out in accordance with paragraph (b) of §1910.333. But, if employees are working on energized conductors or equipment, which has not been locked or tagged out, then the work is covered by § 1910.333(c), which requires such work be done by qualified persons.

Question 2: Should we decide to use the option of implementing 29 CFR 1910.147(c) - (f) is it still acceptable to use 29 CFR 1910.333(b) as the written procedure required in 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)?

Response: No, using a copy of paragraph (b) of §1910.333 for your lockout or tagout program only applies to lockout or tagout for any work on, near, or with electrical conductors or equipment in electric utilization installations covered in § 1910, Subpart S. If you decide to implement the requirements in § 1910.147(c) - (f) as your lockout or tagout program, then you must develop, document, and use an energy control procedure as required by paragraph (c)(4) of §1910.147.

Question 3: When the employees encounter situations where NFPA 70E Article 120 requires complex lockout/tagout procedures, will it be acceptable for the employees to continue using 29 CFR 1910.333(b) as the written procedure?

Response: NFPA 70E is an industry consensus standard, and is generally not enforced by OSHA. Although, compliance with NFPA 70E is an acceptable means of hazard abatement. The use of a copy of §1910.333(b) as your written procedure is allowed if the work is covered by §1910.333, as described in §1910.147(a)(1)(ii)(D). Similar requirements for a so-called "complex lockout or tagout" are in §1910.147(f)(3) - (4), in the "group lockout or tagout," and "shift or personnel changes" sections. In note 2, to §1910.333(b)(2), compliance with §1910.147(f)(3) - (4) is deemed compliance with§1910.333(b)(2).

Scenario 2: We have employees who service and maintain equipment where the potential hazard is other than electrical. In reviewing the exceptions to developing specific written procedures one of the requirements is the lockout device is under the exclusive control of the authorized employee performing the servicing or maintenance. An OSHA interpretative letter describes "under the exclusive control" as "under the exclusive control of the employee" meaning that the authorized employee has the authority to and is continuously in a position to prevent (exclude) other individuals from re-energizing or starting the machine or equipment while performing the servicing or maintenance activity. Our understanding is that the employee is required to apply their LOTO device in a manner that is compliant with 29 CFR 1910.147, and the employer must establish a Hazardous Energy Control (HEC) program.

Question 1: Doesn't the definition of "under the exclusive control" used in the aforementioned scenario add restrictions not defined or explained in the preamble to the standard; i.e., "as used in this provision, exclusive control means that the authorized employee is the only person who can affix or remove the device."

Response: The OSHA interpretive letter you referenced (OSHA Interpretive Letter: 08/24/2005 – Lockout/tagout requirements for servicing manually-controlled vertical/horizontal milling machine and drill press tool changes) does not add additional restrictions. The term, "under exclusive control" is described in the Note, exception to §1910.147(c)(4), is not part of any other requirement. It was used in that letter of interpretation only as an explanation of when documentation of lockout or tagout procedures for particular machines or equipment do not apply, as in the case of minor servicing described in §1910.147(a)(2)(iii)(A).

Question 2: Isn't the correctly applied lockout device under the exclusive control of the authorized employee regardless of their physical position from the lockout device or the equipment/machine controls, and as such prevents the accidental start-up or reenergization of the equipment/machine?

Response: Yes, no proximity requirements exist in either §1910.147, or §1910.333(b). A correctly applied lockout or tagout would not require the employee to be physically near the energy control device while it was locked or tagged out.

Question 3: When the other conditions for the exception §1910.147(c)(4)(i) apply to the work, and where the employee is not continuously in a position to prevent (exclude) other individuals from re-energizing or re-starting the machine or equipment while performing the servicing or maintenance activity, can you suggest how developing a written procedure can improve the employee's safety?

Response: A written energy control plan, when required, improves employee safety because it provides a standardized procedure for all authorized employees to use, and for all affected employees to know about. Documented standard procedures for lockout or tagout do not depend solely on employee memory or practice. Additionally, the training required by §1910.147(c)(7), for both authorized and affected employees, could be more effective with documented procedures.

Question 4: Would it be a de minimis violation if we did not have a written procedure where all of the conditions for the exceptions §1910.147(c)(4)(i) apply, other than your interpretation of a proximity requirement?

Response: No, if the work is applicable, as described in §1910.147(a)(1), then a documented energy control procedure would not be required for a particular machine or equipment, as described in §1910.147(c)(4)(ii)(A) – (D) when all eight elements listed in the Note exist.

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 Directorate of Enforcement Programs at (202) 693-2100.

Sincerely,



 

Tom Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs