Lockout/Tagout. Sounds like a game, right? But it’s really serious business. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures ensure that employees who are servicing or maintaining machines and equipment are not harmed by the unexpected release of hazardous energy. Injuries can be serious or fatal and can include electrocution; burns; and crushing, cutting, or amputation of fingers, hands, arms, and other body parts.
What exactly is lockout/tagout?
Lockout/tagout involves locking or tagging machines with energy-isolating devices and cutting off energy supply to machines and equipment. Note that simply unplugging machines and equipment is not enough; moving equipment parts will also need to be locked in place before any work or maintenance takes place.
Lockout vs. Tagout
Lockout devices will lock an energy-isolating device in a safe position and keep the machine from energizing until the lockout device is removed (using a key or combination lock, or some other secure measure). Lockout devices might include circuit breakers, line valves, slide gates, and disconnect switches. Tagout devices include tags or warnings that indicate that equipment and their energy-isolating devices can’t be used until the tagout devices are removed. Lockout devices must also be used, unless it can be demonstrated that tagout devices alone can fully protect employees.
How does lockout/tagout affect me?
OSHA standards indicate that it is the employer’s responsibility to protect their employees from hazardous energy and train workers so they know and can follow procedures to control hazardous energy.
What should my lockout/tagout program include?
1. Notify all employees of the lockout/tagout program and why it is in place. An authorized employee will need to be put in charge of the program and know the potential energy risks machine and equipment pose.
2. Shut down machine or equipment.
3. Disconnect the machine or device from its energy source with an energy-isolating device. Stored energy in springs, rotating or elevated machine parts, and air or hydraulic pressure also must be released or restrained.
4. Lockout and/or tagout machines and equipment with appropriate devices.
5. After ensuring that all employees are out of the way, attempt to operate the machine or equipment to make sure it has been disconnected from its energy source and that all hazardous energy has been eliminated or properly restrained.
• In many industries, almost 10 percent of serious accidents result from release of uncontrolled hazardous energy.
• A worker injured by hazardous energy on the job misses 24 workdays (on average) for recuperation.
• Lockout/tagout procedures prevent approximately 120 deaths and 50,000 injuries annually.