ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- When it comes to controlling hazardous energy, we tend to focus on the mechanic, technician or the authorized employee’s responsibilities.These individuals perform the service or maintenance of a machine or piece of equipment. However, the operator has certain responsibilities, as well as all other personnel who may be in or around the equipment or the facility where the service or maintenance is conducted.Let’s take a moment to discuss these particular employees.The employee or machine operator may be ready to begin their work shift and, upon arrival at their machine, find some unusual red padlocks with “Danger”.The machine is under active service or maintenance and in a Lockout/Tagout status.This means this machine must not be, or attempted to be, operated.The employee cannot effectively work without the machine and now becomes an “Affected” employee.By definition, an affected employee is:• An employee whose job entails operating or using a machine or piece of equipment, which is being maintained and is under a Lockout/Tagout.• An employee whose job requires him/her to work in an area in which such maintenance is being performed.If the affected employee cannot operate the machine, what do they really need to know about the Lockout/Tagout program?The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says affected employees must be trained in the purpose and use of energy control procedures.Let’s tackle the purpose first. The purpose of controlling hazardous energy, known as Lockout/Tagout, is to prevent the unexpected energizing, or startup, of the machine or equipment, or the release of stored energy, which could harm employees.The unexpected startup of a machine is just that, unexpected.Have you ever been in a situation where a machine started up or an equipment part moved unexpectedly? It can be frightening and such incidents show why Lockout/Tagout is so important.An authorized employee may be working on replacing a belt under the machine and, if the machine starts, they may be exposed to rotating parts, electricity, hydraulics or other potential hazards.Exposure to the release of stored energy is another harmful, if not fatal, characteristic of working on equipment.Have you ever picked up a water hose on a warm day and had water shoot out when you depress the sprayer, even though the water is off at the spigot?That is stored or residual energy.Stored or residual energy must be isolated by being released, disconnected, restrained or otherwise rendered safe. This must be done in a controlled manner.Stored energy comes in various states.In machines and equipment, stored or residual energy can be live or residual electricity, moving parts, heat, gravity, steam, chemicals, pneumatic, hydraulic, air and water pressure.The energy control procedure is typically attached to the machine or equipment and provides the authorized employee very detailed information to safely lockout, or de-energize, the equipment.The energy control procedure details the exact machine to be serviced.In industrial settings, machines may look the same, but be connected to different panels or sources of electricity or energy.The energy control procedure also identifies where the energy sources come from and how to disconnect or control that energy.It also points out other potential hazardous items, such as heat, gravity, pinch points or sharp edges.Many injuries could be prevented by following the energy control procedure and making sure equipment is locked out before servicing it.In fact, a government study showed 80 percent of workers fail to turn off equipment before servicing it. These types of energy sources cause thousands of injuries and fatalities each year.To prevent injuries, hazardous energy must be effectively controlled by following energy control procedures and using lockout and tagout devices. These procedures and devices prevent access to hazardous energy and warn you to avoid it.Lockout/Tagout:• Prevents machinery or equipment from being turned on during servicing and maintenance• Prevents machine and equipment parts from moving, usually by using locking or blocking devices• Provides a means of warning you, usually with warning tags, when it is not possible to lock out controls or parts.You may be asking what this has to do with you as an affected employee? Even though you don’t actually carry out Lockout/Tagout procedures, you have important safety responsibilities related to these procedures.Depending on whether you are a machine operator or someone working nearby, you must fulfill some or all of the following responsibilities:• Notify maintenance when equipment needs to be serviced or repaired• Leave all Lockout/Tagout devices in place while authorized employees are servicing or repairing machinery• Wait for authorized employees to tell you it’s okay before using equipment• Verify Lockout/Tagout locks and tags are removed before attempting to use the equipment• Follow manufacturer instructions for startup. And finally, adhere to all safety rules while operating equipmentEveryone needs to go home at the end of their shift in the same condition as when they arrived. The next injury you prevent could be yours or one of your coworkers. Use situational awareness and stay alert of your surroundings. Stay alert and stay alive.