Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is one of the top ten most frequently cited standards by OSHA.
That means, LOTO standards compliance is often inspected and controlled by OSHA and eventually may result in hefty fines for companies that do not meet the policy. And it’s not a surprise. Properly implemented LOTO programs can prevent many injuries, incidents, and even deaths occurring in workplaces.
So, what does the lockout/tagout program include and how to start with its implementation?
Preparation of a LOTO Program
1. Develop and document machinery energy control procedures
To begin with a LOTO procedure, you need to identify devices and machinery to which hazardous energy control programs will apply. Document a step-by-step process for correct shutting down and restarting of this equipment, include its location and details that will help eliminate possible dangerous actions.
You should be as specific as possible in this step as the documentation will provide fundamental guidelines to authorized employees. Depending on the complexity of the equipment and its application, proper procedure documentation may vary from one to many pages.
OSHA explains what should be included in the documents as follows:
- A statement on how to use the procedures;
- Specific procedural steps to shut down, isolate, block, and secure machines;
- Specific steps designating the safe placement, removal, and transfer of lockout/tagout devices and identifying who has responsibility for the lockout/tagout devices; and
- Specific requirements for testing machines to determine and verify the effectiveness of lockout devices, tagout devices, and other energy-control measures.
2. Select and train employees authorized to use LOTO procedures
Every worker should have a clear understanding of when energy control procedures apply, but personnel who perform the maintenance should be also qualified to use the procedures. The authorized employees must be trained to understand the hazards and how to implement safety measures to mitigate risks.
3. Prepare for the machinery lockout/tagout
Before the actual shut down of machinery, authorized personnel have to notify all affected employees about planned maintenance or servicing, and that energy control procedures will be applied.
Provide exact information about the time and duration of the maintenance and update them if any changes were made during the process. This step is necessary to prevent unexpected attempts of equipment re-energization.
4. Shut down
In this step, an authorized employee will shut down the equipment using a standardized procedure (e.g., power switch) documented in the guidelines.
5. Isolation of energy sources
Workers then locate and isolate all energy sources of the equipment. This may include actions such as turning off power cables or shutting a valve.
6. Lock and tag placement
After full isolation of machinery from energy sources, authorized personnel attach lockout and tagout devices to parts that can be used for re-energization.
This can include electric breaker panels or control valves. The locks and tags are necessary to prevent manipulation of equipment from unauthorized employees.
Each individual authorized for locking or tagging a machine should use signed or person-specific locks or tags, so everyone knows who placed them.
A worker who places the devices should be also the only one allowed to remove them according to OSHA guidelines.
7. Stored energy release
Even after proper shutdown and equipment lockout procedures implementation, machines can possess safety risks because of the stored residual energy.
For example, spring tension, heated liquids, or venting gases could be accidentally released during maintenance and thus need to be handled beforehand. Workers should also secure all moving parts that posses safety hazards throughout the maintenance.
8. Energy isolation verification
In the last step before the maintenance itself, authorized personnel should inspect the proper application of the previous steps.
The machinery is shut down, all energy sources are isolated, locks and tags are in place, and residual energy is released. After the successful inspection, workers can proceed with maintenance.
9. Equipment re-energization
After technicians complete the maintenance, an authorized employee verifies that all workers are aware of the planned re-energization and that they are positioned safely on the worksite.
It is also necessary to remove all tools and repair equipment. This process includes removing the tags and locks by the same person that placed them, and reenergizing the machine.
10. Procedure update
The best practice of the lockout/tagout procedure includes at least annual updates of the documentation and equipment inspections.
Make sure your guidelines are always up-to-date and follow the latest OSHA standard.
This article republished with permission from resco.net. View our other blog posts related to Lockout/Tagout.