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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Control of Hazardous Energy Sources (Lockout/Tagout)
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Background

I. Background

OSHA's General Industry standards, 29 CFR part 1910, were originally published in the Federal Register (38 FR 10466, May 29, 1971) pursuant to Section 6(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) and became effective on August 27, 1971. Before their adoption as OSHA standards, these occupational safety and health standards were either national consensus standards or established Federal standards. Virtually all of the current lockout provisions in part 1910 which are affected by this standard were adopted under the section 8(a) procedure.

At the time of adoption of the original OSHA standards, there was no general, all-encompassing consensus standard or Federal standard for locking out, tagging out, or disabling of machines or equipment to protect employees when maintenance or servicing activities were being performed -- a gap that this rulemaking addresses. However, OSHA did adopt various lockout-related provisions of consensus standards which had been developed for specific types of equipment. These provisions are not deleted by this rulemaking. Current lockout-related provisions in the General Industry Standards (29 CFR part 1910) are found in the following sections:

1910.178 Powered Industrial Trucks
1910.179 Overhead and Gantry Cranes
1910.181 Derricks
1910.213 Woodworking Machinery
1910.217 Mechanical Power Presses
1910.218 Forging Machines
1910.522 Welding, Cutting and Brazing
1910.261 Pulp, Paper and Paperboard Mills
1910.262 Textiles
1910.263 Bakery Equipment
1910.265 Sawmills
1910.272 Grain Handling
1910.331 Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices

Note: See Ex. 13 for a detailed list of lockout provisions in the above standards. For further information involving the use of these provisions, refer to the discussion found in Section VI, Summary and Explanation of the Standard, addressing paragraph (a)(3)(ii).

The present OSHA regulations for locking out or tagging out machines and equipment, where they do exist, are not uniform in their coverage. Inconsistencies in these regulations exist between different equipment and industries, and between different types of equipment in the same industry. Some provisions in the OSHA standards require equipment to have the capability of being "locked out," without requiring such control to be utilized. OSHA feels that the lack of a general standard, and the incompleteness of the existing provisions, have contributed to the alarming number of injuries and fatalities that have occurred.

Since the inception of its enforcement program, OSHA, for the most part, has had to rely upon the use of the "General Duty Clause" (section 5(a)(1) of the Act) citation to ensure that employers provide safeguarding for their employees from the hazards involving the release of hazardous energy. This approach has met with only limited success, limited primarily upon the need for OSHA to prove, in the event of the contest of a section 5(a)(1) citation, that the hazard was a "recognized" hazard and that the hazard was causing or could cause death or serious physical harm. Because of these difficulties, and because of the need to fill a significant gap in the current coverage of part 1910, OSHA has been working since 1977 to gather sufficient information to enable the Agency to write a comprehensive standard for energy control in general industry.

In 1977, OSHA published a Notice in the Federal Register entitled "Machinery and Machine Guarding, Request for Information on Technical Issues and Notice of Public Meetings" (42 FR 1741, January 7,1977) (Docket S-212). In this Notice, OSHA addressed the issue of lockout or tagout, including the general question of whether lockout should always be required when machinery is not in its normal operating mode, or whether alternative methods for employee protection, such as tagout, should be permitted (42 FR 1807). The purpose of that Notice was to generate information for use in updating the OSHA machine guarding standards (Subpart 0). Respondents to that Notice generally recognized the hazards to employees when maintenance and repair activities are undertaken, and the need to use lockout or tagout to control these hazards. There was, however, a considerable range of opinion regarding the effectiveness of either a lock, tag or a combination of these devices when they are used as safeguards.

The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) petitioned OSHA on May 17,1979 (Docket S-012, [Ex. 2-3]) to establish an Emergency Temporary Standard [ETS] for locking out machinery and equipment. The petition stated that there existed a need to recognize the complexities of modern industrial equipment which use sources of energy other than electricity. It contained a discussion of the increasing need for locking out equipment from cycling without warning while it was being worked on, and related the importance of applying lockout procedures to systems using hydraulic or pneumatic power, to energy stored in springs and electrical capacitors, and to potential energy from suspended parts. Abstracts of case studies for fatalities involving 22 UAW members which were attributed to lockout-related causes since 1974 were submitted with the petitions. OSHA also received other petitions and letters in support of the UAW petition from other labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, Allied Industrial Workers, and the United Steelworkers of America.

OSHA responded to the UAW petition on September 11, 1979 [Ex. 2], declining to issue an ETS, but advising that OSHA was proceeding to draft an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [ANPR]; addressing the subject in which the public would be invited to comment on the major issues involved in the development of a standard.

OSHA published the ANPR for a standard on lockout/tagout in the Federal Register on June 17, 1980 (45 FR 41012) (Docket S-012). In that Notice, OSHA raised issues about whether or not a generic standard should be proposed; if so; what should be the scope and application of this lockout/ tagout standard; what constituted the necessary and sufficient energy isolation methods and means, and whether there was a need for written procedures and documented employee training. There was not overwhelming support in the comments submitted to OSHA for a generic standard to cover all facets of the lockout/tagout problem. The comments did indicate, however, that a performance-oriented standard offering enough flexibility to take current work practices into consideration was desirable, and that requirements for documented procedures and employee training would have many advantages. The comments pertaining to securing energy isolating devices (the use of locks or tags) did not generate an overwhelming response strongly favoring either method. The comments received in response to that Notice were utilized in the development of the proposed standard published in the Federal Register on April 29, 1988 (53 FR 15496).

There were several other inputs into the development of the Proposed Rule: First, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided considerable data to OSHA on this subject. NIOSH published a notice in the Federal Register entitled "Lockout and Interlock Systems and Devices: Request for Information" (45 FR 7006, January 31, 1980) (Docket S0-12), [Ex. 2-1]) and provided OSHA with the responses to that Notice. As part of that project, NIOSH also published its "Guidelines for Controlling Hazardous Energy During Maintenance and Servicing" [Ex. 3-4]. Other important sources of information were a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Work Injury Report (WIR) survey entitled, "Injuries Related to Servicing Equipment" [Ex. 3- 3] and two OSHA directed studies -- "Selected Occupational Fatalities Related to Lockout/Tagout Problems as Found in Reports of OSHA Fatality/Catastrophe Investigations" [Ex. 3-5] and "Occupational Fatalities Related to Fixed Machinery as Found in Reports of OSHA Fatality/Catastrophe Investigations" [Ex. 3-6]; Two further studies conducted by OSHA involved the compilation and analysis of OSHA Form 36 Preliminary Fatality / Catastrophe Event Reports [Ex. 3-7] and a compilation of OSHA section (5)(a)(1) citations [Ex. 3-8].

Of great assistance to OSHA in this undertaking was the publication on March 8, 1982, of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) national consensus standard for lockout/tagout, ANSI Z244.1-1982, "American National Standard for Personnel Protection -- Lockout/Tagout of Energy Sources -- Minimum Safety Requirements" [Ex. 3-9]. This standard lists the uniform performance requirements for developing and utilizing a lockout or tagout procedure for the protection of employees in the unexpected energization, start-up of machines or equipment or release of stored energy during repair, maintenance, and associated activities. The consensus standard was utilized by OSHA as the primary basis for development of its proposed standard.

In July 1983, OSHA developed a proposal draft of a standard for lockout/tagout [Ex. 3-10]. This draft was distributed by associations, companies, unions and individuals which OSHA was able to identify as having an interest in the regulation. There were about 80 comments received in response to this preproposal draft. The commenters were generally in support of the effort to develop a safety standard for lockout or tagout; however, some commenters objected to the inclusion of a requirement for locking out during activities classified as "normal production operations." Comments from some sources favored the use of locks rather than tags to secure energy isolating devices while others welcomed the more flexible approach of permitting the use of locks or tags. There was also considerable comment regarding the use of an Appendix. Many commenters wanted the information supplied in the Appendix moved into the body of the standard for enforceability. Others, however, wanted the Appendix material completely removed on the grounds that reference to it by the courts in contested cases would essentially make it mandatory.

The proposed standard was published in the Federal Register on April 29,1988 (53 FR 15495). Interested persons were afforded 60 days to submit comments and/or request a hearing.

On August 9, 1988, OSHA published a Notice in the Federal Register (53 FR 29920) announcing the scheduling of a public hearing and an extension of the period for the submission of comments. The hearing was scheduled for September 22 and 23 in Washington, DC, and September 27 and 28 in Houston, Texas. The comment period was extended until September 22. On August 30, 1988, OSHA published another Notice in the Federal Register (53 FR 33149) changing the dates for the Houston, Texas segment of the hearing from September 27 and 28 to October 12 and 13.

There were 16 parties who participated in the public hearing which was presided over by Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Tureck. During the later stages of the hearing, at the suggestion of several of the hearing participants Judge Tureck established a post hearing comment period, allowing the submission of additional data and evidence through November 28,1988, and the submission of final arguments and briefs through December 23,1988. Based upon subsequent request of several of the hearing participants, the Administrative Law Judge extended the comment period until February 6,1989. Judge Tureck certified the record of the hearing, including materials received in the post-hearing comment period on May 3, 1989.

The comments concerning the preproposal draft (Docket S-012), the special studies and other information used in the development of the proposal for this standard, the comments received in response to the publication of the proposed standard, the evidence adduced at the public hearing and the materials submitted in the post-hearing comment period, were all utilized in the development of this Final Rule.

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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