OSHA Considering Update of LOTO Standard

The agency seeks comments by Aug. 18. OSHA is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy and also the evolving technology for robotics.

OSHA is requesting information on a possible update to its Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) standard, with the agency reporting it is interested in comments on the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy and also the evolving technology for robotics.

"Employers are increasingly using robots and robotic components in their workplaces," the agency's Request for Information states. "OSHA would like to know more about what hazards and benefits this presents with respect to control of hazardous energy, safeguards that can be used, increased efficiencies that result, and any other information related to ensuring employee safety in interfacing with robots. OSHA will use the information received in response to this RFI to determine what action, if any, it may take to reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining worker safety."

The deadline for comments is Aug. 18. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically at https://www.regulations.gov, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2016-0013, or by fax or mail.

OSHA indicated it is seeking information about how employers have been using control circuit devices, including information about the types of circuitry and safety procedures being used; limitations of their use, to determine under what other conditions control circuit-type devices could be used safely; new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy as a result of increased interaction with robots; and whether the agency should consider changes to the LOTO standard that would address these new risks.

The current LOTO standard was published in 1989. It requires that all sources of energy be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment by using an energy-isolating device. The standard specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used as energy-isolating devices, but the agency reported that it "recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices."

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