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9 Steps to Control Stored Energy During Maintenance

dateJuly 12, 2022

In the domain of industrial operations and equipment maintenance, stored energy is like a sleeping giant. While equipment may seem dormant once switched off, the residual energy often lurking within can be a substantial hazard if not methodically addressed. Managing stored energy is a critical element of the maintenance process, ensuring that equipment remains genuinely inert and safe during servicing.

Below is a structured approach to ensure that any residual energy within equipment is systematically neutralized, rendering the system truly safe and secure.

Detailed Steps to Address Stored Energy:

  1. System Inspection: Before anything else, visually inspect the equipment to ensure that all parts have ceased movement. Motion suggests that some energy is still in play; ensure all parts have stopped moving.
  2. Grounding: Install ground wires to provide a safe path for any leftover electrical energy, ensuring it doesn't pose an electrical hazard.
  3. Pressure Relief: Particularly in systems operating under pressure, it's crucial to vent any trapped pressure to prevent unexpected discharges or movements.
  4. Manage Potential Movement: For machinery with springs or other tensioned components, either release the tension methodically or block potential movement to ensure that these parts don’t suddenly deploy.
  5. Block Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems: In systems driven by fluids or gases under pressure, utilize blocks or other stabilizing devices to prevent unintended movement due to pressure loss.
  6. Draining and Valve Closure: Empty any process piping systems and close related valves, ensuring no liquid hazards remain.
  7. Purging: Clear out reactor tanks and process lines, eliminating any lingering chemicals or other potential hazards.
  8. Temperature Management: Address equipment components that might be extremely hot or cold. Either allow the temperature to normalize or, if that's not possible, ensure that protective clothing is worn during the maintenance process.
  9. Ongoing Monitoring: Recognizing that some forms of stored energy can regenerate over time, continuously monitor the equipment to ensure levels remain non-hazardous throughout the maintenance process.

Understanding the Nature of Stored Energy:

Stored energy is deceptive. Unlike active energy sources, it remains concealed, often giving a false sense of security. This latent menace can catch even seasoned professionals off guard, unleashing its potential harm in a sudden and unexpected manner. While disconnecting an energy source is vital, it's just the first step. Systems may still harbour residual energy that, if not correctly managed, can result in devastating accidents.

Maintenance is not just about repairing or servicing equipment; it's about ensuring a holistic safe environment during the process. This mandates the thorough neutralization of all stored energies within a system, reinforcing the fact that simply switching off a machine doesn't render it safe. The path to safety lies in meticulously ensuring equipment achieves a Zero Energy State. This diligence not only safeguards the workforce but also reinforces an organization's commitment to unwavering safety standards.

Always remember, in maintenance, caution is not just a best practice; it's a lifesaver.

E-Square Compliance and Education Division
About the Author

E-Square Compliance and Education Division

A team of safety professionals and educators united to enhance workplace safety with essential Lockout Tagout knowledge. We offer expertise to foster safety compliance and effective LOTO protocols across industries.

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