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Zero In On Safety – Don’t let the pressure get to you

Energy sources are always present. Every aspect of our daily life requires the use of energy in one form or another. Stored energy is “pent up” energy that can be released unexpectedly.  Consider what we can do to protect ourselves from injuries that are caused by energy releases.

Common energy types include:

Gravity Enables objects to fall, roofs to collapse, and people to trip and fall.
Motion The movement of vehicles, vessels, water, wind or body movement.
Mechanical Rotating equipment, drive belts, conveyers, motors or compressed springs.
Electrical Including power lines, transformers, static charges, lightning, wiring and batteries.
Pressure Piping, compressed cylinders, tanks, hoses, pneumatic and hydraulic equipment.
Temperature Including ignition sources, hot or cold surfaces, steam, friction and weather.
Chemical Vapors, toxic compounds, combustibles, corrosives, welding fumes and dusts.
Radiation Including solar rays, microwaves, X-rays and welding arcs.
Sound Equipment noise, vibration, high-pressure release, and voice communication.

 

Stored energy is not always easily recognizable. A valve or a blinded connection may have pressure against it because a valve further upstream has leaked or has been cracked open.  An unrecognized high center of gravity may cause a piece of equipment to topple over unexpectedly. Stored energy might still exist in the form of hydraulic pressure in a piece of equipment that has been mechanically and/or electrically locked out.

How can you identify hazards and prevent injuries associated with stored or pent-up energy?

  • Always lock, tag and verify a “zero energy state” of energy sources prior to commencing work.
  • Determine if there are multiple energy sources present on the same piece of equipment.
  • Carefully bleed off stored energy in cylinders, pipelines, receivers, etc., recognizing appropriate safety and environmental considerations.
  • Look out for alternate supply feeds, bypassed interlocks or valves that may not be properly closed.
  • When applying force (push or pull) be prepared for an unexpected slip or release.
  • Keep clear of suspended loads and always consider the force of gravity.
  • Always use the right tools for the job and ensure those tools are in good condition.

Recognize that Personal Protective Equipment is your last line of defense.

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