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E-stop

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

E-stop (emergency stop) is a simple, highly visible button designed to shut down operations on heavy and/or dangerous equipment.

Used to save lives in industrial operations, E-stops shut down equipment immediately. E-stops are found in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, engineering, power production and in vehicles, amusement park rides and other heavy equipment. In some cases, using an E-stop can require work to restart equipment, affecting production. The devices can even damage the equipment. Because of the potential for creating extra costs or affecting productivity, E-stops are not used to stop equipment for production problems that do not affect safety.

Mechanical simplicity, visibility and easy operation are all critical for E-stop’s role in industrial environments. When using heavy equipment, a decrease of milliseconds in response times to workplace danger or accidents can save lives and prevent or reduce injury. E-stops are often bright red, oversized buttons with “STOP” printed on them in large, clear letters so they are immediately visible to panicked workers and can facilitate a split-second response time. Because of their potentially destructive nature, however, E-stops are sometimes protected with a cover called a Molly-guard, which may be transparent.

E-stops are also known as emergency power off (EPO). Similar devices to E-stops, called kill switches, use various mechanisms to ensure a conscious operator’s presence. These mechanisms might include levers, weight or pressure sensors or other sensors in controls or seating. When triggered, kill switches shut down equipment automatically, preventing accidents that could be caused by incapacitated operators.

This was last updated in September 2017

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