Lockout Tagout - Energy Control

By R.W. Hurst, Editor

Lockout tagout is a critical safety procedure that helps protect employees from hazardous energy sources during maintenance and service work. By following a comprehensive energy control program, companies can minimize accidents, ensure OSHA compliance, and promote a safe working environment. This article will explore the key aspects of lockout tagout and provide answers to common questions about its implementation.

LOTO procedures are essential to mitigate risks posed by hazardous energy sources such as electricity, hydraulic pressure, and pneumatic energy. These procedures involve the use of lockout devices to isolate energy sources, preventing the accidental release of hazardous energy. Equipment isolation is crucial to this process, ensuring that machines or equipment are de-energized and cannot be operated unintentionally.

LOTO safety practices encompass a wide range of measures, including developing and implementing an energy control program. This program should outline procedures, training, and inspections to guarantee electrical safety and compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

OSHA's standard (29 CFR 1910.147) is the standard for the control of hazardous energy lockout tagout. It establishes the minimum requirements for controlling hazardous energy in various industries. It defines the roles and responsibilities of authorized and affected employees and the proper use of lockout devices and energy-isolating devices. Compliance with this OSHA standard is crucial to prevent accidents and avoid penalties.

There are numerous lockout devices available to suit different energy sources and applications. Examples include padlocks, valve lockouts, breaker lockouts, and plug lockouts. These devices should be durable, standardized, and easily identifiable to ensure effective energy isolation.

Lockout tagout safety training is essential for all employees working with or around machines and equipment that may pose a hazard. This training should cover topics such as the identification of hazardous energy sources, proper use of lock and tag devices, and the responsibilities of authorized and affected employees. Regular refresher courses can help maintain employee awareness and compliance with lockout tagout procedures.

Understanding the roles of authorized and affected employees is crucial for an effective lockout tagout program. Authorized employees are those responsible for performing procedures, while affected employees are those whose work may be impacted by the lockout. Authorized personnel must be thoroughly trained in procedures and should have exclusive access to lockout devices.

Regular audits and improvements are essential for maintaining an effective lockout tagout program. These audits should assess the adequacy of the energy control program, the functionality of lockout devices, and the effectiveness of employee training. By addressing any shortcomings or non-compliance issues, companies can continuously enhance their energy control procedures and overall safety culture.

The essential steps in a lockout tagout procedure include identifying hazardous energy sources, de-energizing and isolating equipment, applying lock and tag devices, and verifying that the energy has been effectively controlled. Lockout tagout ensures workplace safety by preventing the release of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of circuit breakers and service equipment in production operations, protecting employees from injury.

Compliance with OSHA standards, such as 29 CFR 1910.147, is crucial for an effective program. Companies must use appropriate lockout devices for different energy sources, train their employees in lockout tagout procedures, and distinguish between authorized and affected employees' responsibilities. Regular audits and improvements can help maintain and enhance the effectiveness of lockout tagout practices.