Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is an operational procedure used in many industries as a means to make safe potentially hazardous equipment while maintenance or repair tasks are carried out. Workers can be electrocuted or lose fingers, hands, arms, or suffer severe crushing injuries because machinery is inadvertently turned on while being serviced or maintained. These injuries can be prevented by establishing an effective lockout program.
Lockout means locking a switch, valve, isolator or other energy source in the off or closed position. This is done with a padlock.
Tagout means affixing a warning tag to the locked device to give some information about why the equipment is locked, who locked it out, when it was locked out, and maybe, when it might be switched back on, or opened up again.
“80 percent of workers injured servicing equipment surveyed failed to turn off the equipment before performing the service work.”
– U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Keep in mind that energy sources can be electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, kinetic. These energy sources must be disengaged or blocked, and locked in the off position before servicing. Note that electrical sources must also be de-energized.
There is a difference between turning off a machine and actually disengaging a piece of equipment. When turning off a control switch, you are opening a circuit; however, there is still electrical energy at the switch, and a short in the switch or someone turning on the machine may start it running again.
Failure to lock out and block out machinery before working on it is a major cause of injury and death in the United States.
An effective lockout/tagout program should include the following:
1. An inspection of equipment by a trained individual who is thoroughly familiar with the equipment operation and associated hazards
2. Identification and labelling of lockout devices
3. Purchase of locks, tags, and blocks
4. A standard written operating procedure that is followed by all employees.
It should also be noted that an effective lockout program is relatively low cost, but highly effective means to protect workers as they go about their daily tasks. It will require an investment in training of personnel and the purchase of lockout locks and devices. But in a short space of time, the safety integrity of your working procedures will move to a much higher level.
Lockout Tagout is specified in global health and safety legislation.
The OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.147 is the Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) and describes actions and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.
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Thanks for the help!
My company recently got started with LOTO after a near miss when one of our guys turned a breaker on that he thought had just popped. Luckily the tech working on the machinery at the other end was about done but it opened our eyes to the fact that we had a hole in our safety procedures. We’d like to say thanks to you guys for helping us figure out how to get started and what products we needed for our plant.