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Hazardous energy dangers on the job

An electrical short in a piece of equipment is an example of a situation in which a hazardous energy release could injure or even kill a Minnesota worker. Those involved in the maintenance and repair of various types of equipment are most at risk of such incidents although others could be harmed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. It is estimated that close to 10 percent of serious accidents in many occupations result from hazardous energy issues, causing an average of 24 lost workdays per incident for those who must recuperate from their injuries.

OSHA standards exist to direct the management of potential dangers, including protocol for lockout or tagout practices that are designed to minimize worker risks. Even with good safety practices on the job, employees can be involved in workplace accidents related to energy sources. In settings that involve little attention to safety standards and practices, however, the risks are even more serious. An employee might find that it is helpful to bring safety concerns to the attention of an employer, but a lack of responsiveness to serious matters might warrant taking such concerns to an outside entity such as OSHA.

Those most at risk of hazardous energy incidents are typically individuals who work in construction, but even in an office, hazardous energy issues could arise. People examining a malfunctioning appliance, for example, could come into contact with electricity if they fail to turn off the switch at the electrical box.

An individual who has complained about workplace safety and dealt with adverse reactions from an employer might encounter challenges in filing a workers' compensation claim or in providing supporting information for a co-worker's claim. In such instances, legal support might be needed to address an employer's inappropriate response.

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