Working with machinery and industrial equipment can be extremely dangerous. Because of this, as a precaution, most machines are designed with safety equipment and controls to keep everyone safe. When not in use, most machinery can also pose a threat to workers wellbeing. As long as equipment is plugged into an energy source, a safety hazard exists. Workers who operate and repair these machines must be made aware of these hazards. Having a formal LOTO (lockout/tagout) program in place can ensure the safety of your workers. The experts at North Central Electric are sharing 6 steps to follow for a safer lockout/tagout program to better control hazardous energy and protect your workers.
In order to have a safe and effective lockout/tagout program that is OSHA compliant, your facility should include these 6 predictive and preventative maintenance steps:
The first step in devising a safer lockout/tagout program is to prepare the machinery for service, maintenance, or shutdown. This is where an authorized employee investigates and gains a complete understanding of the equipment, as well as all types of hazardous energy that may need to be controlled. The approved employee should recognize how to shut down, restart and power on the equipment. It’s recommended to have your employee keep a detailed account of the procedure, step by step. It’s also important to notify any affected employees of when the scheduled maintenance will take place.
Shutdown Equipment Properly
One your preparation phase is complete, it’s time to shut down, or lockout, the equipment. All affected employees should be aware of what’s going on during the shutdown process to ensure everyone’s safety.
Your next step to ensure a safer LOTO program is to deactivate and isolate the equipment from any energy sources. This can look like a number of different things from turning off the power at a breaker to flipping a switch or shutting a valve. This may seem simple, but it’s important to be very detailed-oriented when isolating machinery to prevent harm.
Next, you’ll want to verify that your machine has been deactivated and that the lockout has been successful. Once you’re sure the machinery is cut off or isolated from its energy source, it’s time to lock or tag out the machine. Your authorized employee will attach a lockout or tagout device to the equipment. This ensures the machinery cannot be started unexpectedly and that it remains in a “safe” position. Once successful, all switches should be moved back to the “off” positions, so the machine doesn’t start back up once the energy sources are reconnected.
Stored Energy Check
Just because your equipment is offline and disconnected does not fully guarantee there’s no hazardous energy stored up. During this process, it’s important to look for signs of residual energy and take the time to safely release it. This can prevent injury to everyone involved.
Reconnect and Bring Back Online
With everything safely in place and de-energized, an authorized employee will verify that the machine is ready to be brought back online. It’s crucial that this procedure is followed in the correct sequence to maintain everyone’s safety.
These procedures can change overtime, so it’s important to keep your LOTO program and your employees up to date. Reviewing this program regularly with all your employees can help keep everyone safe. At NCE, we can help protect your workers while they perform their essential duties with our lockout/tagout procedures. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.