When working in the industrial field, knowledge on the operations of light to heavy machinery is often a requirement and with that lockout tagout procedures are a must. As there would be times when repair and maintenance is required for certain machines and equipment, safety precautions are set in order to allow the contractors making the repairs and maintenance to proceed. Lockout Tagout is one of these procedures necessary to keep people safe from electrical accidents or injuries. Now for those unfamiliar with this, one of the things you must be wondering is – what is a Lockout Tagout anyway? Another is: how would anyone know if it is in effect? These are the things that will be discussed in this article, as well as how lockout/tagout procedures apply to the bigger picture of electrical safety.
What is a Lockout Tagout?
Lockout Tagout is an industry standard that requires equipment and machinery within an industrial workplace to be shut down properly when maintenance or service work is about to take place. Lockout Tagout is also designed to prevent any unauthorized release of hazardous energy when such service work is taking place. Lockout Tagout is designed to warn any personnel who works for a certain company that the machines that are undergoing Lockout/Tagout should not be touched or operated at all.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) conducted a study that presented figures of 20% among fatalities in the workplace from 1973 to 1995 were caused by inadequate adherence to measures of a Lockout Tagout procedure. To understand it further, a Lockout is set down when the company will undergo repair or maintenance work for a certain machine, or even the whole facility. A lock is then placed upon each device or power source to prevent anyone from turning it on. A tag is then affixed to warn anyone that the machine should remain untouched while repair or maintenance or is ongoing.
In the case of a group or mass Lockout Tagout, wherein different subcontractors work under the same roof, a folding lockout scissor clamp is used with a holes for each contractor to place their own lock on the device, machine, or facility. Lockout Tagout tags like this one are made to ensure that nobody would be able to unlock these things without the permission or knowledge of the other contractors.
Lockout Tagout Checklist
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that certain Lockout Tagout procedures end up not conforming to the set regulations that are meant to look out for the safety of the personnel and the effective maintenance of the company. This has resulted to Lockout Tagout being the number fifth most violated standard of the OSHA.
One Lockout Tagout procedure that is often violated would be the application of the Lockout Tagout within eyesight of the service area. This prevents anyone seeing the Lockout Tagout tags as they will notice the repairs ongoing nearby. Another is the wrong use of Lockout Tagout tags. Facilities are required to have at least four kinds of tags, which include Energy control for servicing and maintenance, Process control for production purposes, Informational to impart information, and Danger Do-Not-Use tags for defective tools and equipment.
The use of duplicate keys is also a violation of the lockout tagout procedures. Devices under Lockout Tagout must only be unlocked and untagged by the designated contractors or personnel who have been set to lock them. Most locks often provide space to put names or pictures along with a contact number of personnel authorized to unlock and untag each device. If one is not present at the time when the device is set to be unlocked or untagged, someone must get in touch with them and require them to travel back to the facility to unlock and untag the specific device. As you can see, knowledge and implentation of a proper lockout tagout technique is crucial to employee and personnel safety.