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Controlling occupational hazardous energy

Many West Virginia employees frequently work around hazardous energy, which is challenging for employers to keep under control. In fact, hazardous energy is the cause of about 10 percent of all serious occupational accidents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Those who are injured from hazardous energy at the workplace generally miss about 24 workdays while they are recovering.

The type of employees who are at the greatest risk for a hazardous energy-related accident include those who maintain or service machinery or equipment, such as laborers, electricians, craft workers and machine operators. There are about 3 million of these workers who routinely face being injured because of hazardous energy.

Because of these dangers, OSHA has a zero-risk blanket approach policy, which is adopted by many companies. However, because technology is advancing, there is a need for the OSHA standard of the Control of Hazardous Energy for general industry to be updated, according to industry groups. For example, the conventional safety approach to lockout/tagout is to completely shut down the machinery. However, this way may not be suitable for many updated pieces of equipment and for operators or maintenance personnel who need to perform some operations.

Most employees who suffer a work injury while they were engaged in their jobs are eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits generally include medical expense reimbursement and in some cases partial wage replacement. An attorney can often assist with the preparation and submission of the claim and supporting documents.

Source: EHS Today, "The Future of Lockout/Tagout: Is Zero Risk an Outdated Approach?", Sandy Smith, Jan. 13, 2017

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