The OSHA Policy on the Deadman Switch

by Kim Davis; Updated September 26, 2017
Engineer in factory

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration develops regulations for businesses and other workplaces in the United States. These regulations mandate the use of deadman switches in some machine processes.

The "Deadman" Switch

Woman working in the Metal Industry

A deadman switch reverts automatically to the "Off" position when the user does not exert pressure. A deadman switch cannot be left in the "On" position if, for example, the operator becomes incapacitated or unconscious or dies while operating the machinery -- hence its name.

Power Tools

Electric wheel grinding on steel structure

OSHA requires that all handheld power tools that cannot be operated remotely must have a deadman switch. This ensures that a power tool will not continue to function if the operator loses control of the power switch.

Crane Hoists

buildings under construction with sunset

Crane hoists must also operate using a deadman switch or lever that returns automatically to the “Off” position on release. This measure prevents a crane from continuing to lift or drop a potentially dangerous load if the operator loses control of the hoist switch. This also applies to bridge cranes that carry overhead loads along horizontal tracks. The use of a deadman lever prevents the load colliding with the limit of the overhead track or boom in cases of operator negligence or incapacity.

References

About the Author

Kim Davis began writing in 1977. His articles have appeared in "The New Musical Express," "The Literary Review" and "City Limits," as well as numerous Web sites. Davis is the consulting editor for the "New York Times"/New York University collaboration, "Local: East Village." He has a Doctor of Philosophy in philosophy from Bristol University.

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