August 4, 2011
Mr. Ronald Gall
Department of the Army
Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
Fort Randall Project
P.O. Box 199
Pickstown, SD 57367-0199
Dear Mr. Gall:
Thank you for your August 23, 2010, letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). You ask questions about your Hazardous Energy Control Program. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation only of the requirements discussed and may not be applicable to any question not delineated within your original correspondence, as well as telephone and email communications with you. Those communications clarified the questions raised in your correspondence. We apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. Your paraphrased scenarios, questions, and our replies follow:
Scenario: The Corps of Engineering has an existing Hazardous Energy Control Program in place and is contemplating revisions of that program. You state that the present program complies with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147 (and 29 CFR 1910.269) for utilizing procedures to affix appropriate lockout devices or tags to prevent unexpected energization, start up, or release of stored energy. You state that, for example, a hydroelectric generator has 30 to 40 different isolation points-isolation point being a source or potential source of energy.
Question 1: Do OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.147 or 29 CFR 1910.269 permit adding individual isolation points to a clearance (pre-established and written) procedure once that clearance (procedure) has been established and work has begun under the clearance?
Response: No. Deviation from a pre-established and documented energy control procedure during service and maintenance operations would be a violation of OSHA's Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) standard. The requirement for an employer to establish energy control procedures before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance is contained in paragraph (c)(1) of 29 CFR 1910.147, which states:
Energy control program. The employer shall establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment shall be isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative.
An identical requirement exists at paragraph (d)(2)(i) of 29 CFR 1910.269, the standard covering work on electric power generation, transmission, and distribution installations.
Further, please be aware that where other standards in 29 CFR Part 1910 require the use of lockout or tagout, they shall be used and supplemented by the procedural and training requirements of 29 CFR 1910.147 (see 29 CFR 1910.147(a)(3)(ii)).
Question 2: You asked whether OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.147 or 29 CFR 1910.269 would permit breaking out an individual isolation point from a clearance (pre-established and written) procedure and releasing it from the procedure once that clearance (procedure) has been established (set) and work has begun under the clearance.
Response: No. As explained in the response to Question 1, it is not permissible to deviate from a pre-established and documented energy control procedure during service and maintenance operations.
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 the 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. In addition, 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.
Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs