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Controlling hazardous energy in the workplace

Oklahoma residents who work in certain construction trades or other crafts may face serious risks on the job related to hazardous energy, especially in cases involving the maintenance or repair of equipment. Hazardous energy can exist in various forms, including chemical, mechanical, electrical and pneumatic. The potential of this energy to harm or even kill an individual is what makes it hazardous, but safety measures are typically used to minimize the risk of contact.

Approximately 10 percent of the serious work-related accidents in many trades and industries derives from failure in controlling hazardous energy. Lockout and tagout standards are in place to direct employers and their workers in safely controlling hazardous energy situations. Training is an important factor for ensuring that employees understand how to disable equipment to minimize the potential for a hazardous energy release.

Workplace injuries caused by hazardous energy incidents create an average loss of 24 workdays for the injured parties. Individuals on a job might be tempted to circumvent safety protocol because of time demands or because of the belief that an issue can be resolved without going through all of the safety steps normally required. While these issues might be matters of worker errors, employers could contribute to safety risks by pressuring employees to hurry or to increase productivity. Workers who believe that safety matters are being compromised might want to report their concerns to OSHA if supervisors refuse to follow correct safety protocol.

A workers' compensation claim can be filed to ensure that medical attention is covered through the appropriate avenues. In a serious case that involves a long period of recuperation, additional benefits to cover lost wages might be due. If there is difficulty in obtaining employer cooperation in such a situation, legal intervention might be needed.

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