In order to maintain electrical safety in the workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is tasked with making sure that activities are safeguarded and regulated. OSHA is part of the U.S. Labor Department, and as such, the agency is fully responsible for making sure that safety is a number one concern in all sectors of industry and business. What this means is that rules are placed and regulations are enacted in order to provide the safest environment for work. One of the most popular regulations enacted for electrical safety is the Lockout Tagout, a safety procedure created to protect personnel who are working on machines.
Electrical safety is of utmost concern in workplaces where machines abound. It has been researched that over a hundred people die each year because machines that are being repaired, set up, or serviced have not been properly locked out. Lockout Tagout was specifically created to make sure that a particular machines energy is neutralized before it is serviced on. This electrical safety procedure keeps employees from accidently starting up a machine without them knowing that the machine is under maintenance, and that people are currently working on it. Machines that are being repaired become extremely hazardous devices when they are turned on. People can become electrocuted, crushed, or impaled by flying debris should these machines suddenly acquire power when their parts are being worked on.
Electrical safety via the lockout tagout procedure is very ingenious concept. The core of this electrical safety procedure is making sure that the machines source of power is diminished. For machines that function using electricity, the source of electricity must be cut off by utilizing locks and tags. The locks keep the lines for electricity incapable of being restored, while the tags alert people not to turn on the energy source for the machines are currently in service.
Machines function by using one or more of the five energy sources: thermal, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, or chemical. All of these energies can assume either of the two states: stored or active. Either of these states can become very hazardous when operated on without prior knowledge. It is the job of a particular company to make sure that its personnel are briefed about electrical safety tips, handling of different energies, and various rules and regulations before immersing them in the workplace.
Companies should understand the significance of LO/TO to electrical safety. There are a lot of situations wherein LO/TO becomes very valuable. For example, projects that involve clearing jams or repairing circuits all require Lockout Tagout in order to become safe projects. LO/TO involves training the employees about basic LO/TO procedures, and only then can these employees work on the machines.
LO/TO for electrical safety requires a variety of devices to be imposed. The lockout devices can come in the form of valve clamps, chains, padlocks, key blocks, pins, or wedges. These devices cut out the energy supply line and render them incapable of being reconnected until the rest of the personnel are complete with their tasks. Group Lockouts are among the most valuable for electrical safety, for it makes sure that each employee have successfully completed their jobs before energy is reconnected again. Group Lockouts are done using a folding scissors clamp that has multiple padlock holes that are built to keep the padlock closed. Each personnel apply their padlock to the clamp before they work, rendering the machine incapable of being activated until each of the employees have signed off on their own projects and their own padlocks are removed from the clamp. This electrical safety strategy has proved to be helpful in a lot of companies nowadays, and are currently still saving a hundred lives.
The tagout procedure for electrical safety is equally ingenious in its own way. Tagout devices should only be used as informational warning signs, and should never, ever be used as a lockout device. Tagout devices must be easy to see, durable, and be very difficult to remove. When employing the lockout/tagout electrical safety procedure, no two locks or keys should be similar, and they should never be removed by anyone but those who installed the locks and tags themselves, unless of course, instructed by the employer.
Isolation pertains to the removal of all energy sources that powers equipment, and this is done through a strict four-step procedure. First, the energy source must be identified to plan the appropriate course of action. Second, the energy source must be isolated. Third, the energy source must be locked and/or tagged to ensure that the machine can be safely repaired, maintained, or serviced. Lastly, the personnel should be able to prove that their isolation efforts are effective. Today, various manufacturers have innovated on a wide range of devices for isolation that are created to specifically fit a plethora of valves, effectors, or switches. Modern valves and switches require specific devices to be locked out, and manufacturers have proven successful in creating appropriate lockout and tagout devices for each one of them.
It is essential that only trained employees are instructed to use this electrical safety procedure, and in addition to this, they should be made aware of all the aspects of electricity that revolve in the machines they operate. Anyone who works around these machines, whether they’re included in the machines repair or not, should also be informed about these electrical safety procedures, lest they tamper with the lockout/tagout devices and cause danger. These people must always be informed when a Lockout Tagout electrical safety procedure is currently taking place, and that they are prohibited to work on the machines or even come near them when service is undergoing.
In the course of history, over a hundred deaths have occurred when people fail to employ LO/TO efficiently, and it is essential to make sure that your workplace is not part of this statistic. Always make sure that you follow each one of OSHA electrical safety regulations about LO/TO, and require your employees to take training, most especially those that are going to be instructed to work on machines.