Lockout Tagout is the procedure that ensures the complete shutdown of machinery and equipment until further notice. During this procedure, the piece of equipment remains inoperable until the desired repair, service or maintenance steps are complete. A company has to use the lockout tagout procedure for workplace safety and making sure that all the employees are safe and sound.
Lockout Tagout is popularly often referred to as LOTO. It is a control program for various types of hazardous energy sources as well as an element that can cause someone harm. Primary examples are electricity, hydraulics, chemicals, water, heat and air.
Why is it Important to follow a Lockout Tagout Procedure?
It is important to follow strict lockout tagout procedures for the following reasons
1. Employee safety
The Health and safety of all its employees within the organization need to be the primary concern of the employers. By following the lockout tagout program they are making sure only the authorized employees are going near the machinery and equipment and that too for service and maintenance. The rest of the employees are keeping the required distance from the machine and the area where it is kept and taking proper security measures.
2. Employer security
If not managed properly the lockout tagout can cause serious harm as a worker might be killed or injured accidentally. In such a case when the accident happens in the workplace the employer becomes liable and he has to bear the hospital bills. Moreover, if something serious like a death happens he can also be punished under the law. The employer for this reason is extra cautious as it will mean loss of money and reputation in the market.
3. Government rules
Government is pretty strict about workplace safety. If it finds that proper safety measures are not been taken then it can result in hefty fines or discontinued services. The safety management department in the company must ensure that it is following all the required safety standard as well as regulations laid down by CFR 1910.1467 (OSHA’S standard on the control of hazardous energy)
What are the OSHA Lockout Tagout Requirements?
The OSHA has laid down standard requirements for energy control programs of different types of hazardous energy like electricity, gas and pressure that every company must follow. The Employer must let everyone know that there is a lockout tagout program in place before it opts for any service or maintenance.
OSHA lockout tagout requirements ensure that the employer have established necessary procedures to remove the sources of energy from the piece of equipment.
As per OSHA, the safety management department must make sure that required devices are placed on the equipment and ensure that the equipment does not have any energy left. It will prevent the unexpected start of the equipment.
OSHA demands that employers must offer proper training to all concerned workers in the safety management team at least once a year so that they hone their existing skills and get an update about new procedures for controlling energy. This measure will ensure that the lockout tagout program is being followed diligently.
In case the company is going to use only tags instead of lock OSHA protocols require management to take extra care of the tagout device and use specific practices and procedures to prevent accidental injury or death of any employee. This will safeguard workers within an organization from unexpected hazardous energy releases.
What are the Steps of Lockout Tagout Procedures?
The basic steps in the lockout tagout procedures are as follows-
1. Prepare for the shutdown
The first step in the lockout tagout program is preparing for the shutdown of the equipment. Identify the machine that will need servicing, consider energy sources connected to the machinery and determine the specific step for shutting down the machine in a step-by-step manner. Proper handling is very important hence ensure that the authorized service and maintenance team is aware of energy sources and trained in the hazardous energy control program
2. Notify affected employees
This is the step where every worker who has access to that area is made aware of the pending service or maintenance activities. Inform affected employees as soon as possible about how long the place will be restricted area and the timing of the service or maintenance activities.
3. Shut down the equipment
One of the most important steps in the lockout tagout procedures is to shut down the equipment with every safety standards in place. Make sure that only authorized people are allowed to handle the machine and lock down the system. Use the tag device and the lock device in the correct order on the pierce of equipment for controlling hazardous energy.
4. Isolation of energy source
This is the step in the LOTO program where isolation of energy source takes place under proper safety management rules. Make sure that even a single source is in isolation otherwise it might prove disastrous for everyone
5. Apply LOTO devices to energy sources
In this step, the service and maintenance team will be making sure that energy is controlled and a proper lockout has taken place. The authorized people will take the help of LOTO devices for example the lock device and tag device that will stop the equipment from being energized. Sometimes multiple devices have to be used on a single piece of equipment so that energy is controlled and a proper lockout takes place.
6. Release/control all stored energy
The piece of equipment might have residual energy. This is the time to release all the stored energy as a safety precaution.
7. Verify the lockout
Yes, the authorized persons have taken all safety measures in the lockout tagout program and ensured the lockout but this is about workplace safety. Make sure to double-check and verify the lock. Several types of hazardous energy can cause serious harm hence it is better to ensure once again that the authorized team has full control of the process.
8. Bring the equipment back on the line
When the maintenance work is complete it is time to remove all the tools and Tagout device with extreme caution. This is the time to bring the equipment back on the line. Take the steps of the procedure as it should be done step-by-step in the correct order.
It is vital to keep up with the lockout tagout procedures on regular basis. The operating process tends to change and even a small mistake can prove fatal. It becomes doubly important for authorized people to be in the loop and know about every single change in the lockout tagout procedures
What is the difference between Lockout Tagout?
Both lockout and tagout devices are locks used in controlling hazardous energy. Besides this similarity, they also have some differences for example
- Lockout refers to placing an energy isolation device on a machine or equipment so that it becomes inoperable whereas tagout device is placed to let people know that the equipment will not be operated until the lockout is removed
- As per OSHO regulations lockout is a safer and more effective device than just using the tagout device because lockout will provide physical locks that cannot be taken off without a key.