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How to manage hazardous energy risks

According to OSHA, failure to control hazardous energy contributes to 10 percent of serious accidents across multiple industries. For instance, a worker in North Carolina or elsewhere who is maintaining a machine could suffer from burns, cuts or lacerations if such energy is not controlled. On average, these injuries take 24 workdays to recover from. In some cases, workers are killed because of a lack of control of hazardous energy.

Currently, OSHA has a lockout/tagout policy for machinery that specifies that machines must be completely shut down in the event of an emergency. However, new ANSI regulations acknowledge that there may be a level of acceptable risk at times when energy is required. In fact, some believe that a zero-risk policy may be at odds with current safety management practices. Overall, only 10 percent of companies have lockout plans that go above and beyond OSHA regulations.

Another 30 percent of companies don't have a lockout program at all while the rest are doing their best to comply with OSHA regulations. The latest revision to ANSI/ASSE Z244.1 says that employers should conduct a risk assessment and let it guide their hazardous energy program. Furthermore, the plan should be treated as a flexible one that can be changed and updated as needed.

Workers who are injured on the job may be entitled to workers' compensation. Compensation may help pay for medical bills as well as replace a portion of an employee's salary while he or she is out of work. An attorney may be able to help an injured worker pursue a workers' compensation or personal injury claim depending on the circumstances of the injury. While most cases are resolved outside of court, lawyers may help workers in court if necessary.

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