Lockout Tagout Demystified

Author
Stephanie McCauley

Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/Tagout & OSHA Compliance Demystified

Technology has advanced tremendously over the last few decades. Under ideal conditions, the equipment used in the industrial and manufacturing industry is safe to operate and requires almost no supervision.

Nevertheless, the power produced by machines easily surpasses what the human body can handle. Accidents involving hazardous energy are always a possibility. However, you, as a business owner, can keep your workers safe and reduce their chance of sustaining injuries by preparing and adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) guidelines on hazardous energy.

OSHA’s hazardous energy standards are straightforward. However, we at Safety Services Company want to help and make it even more simple. Below is a summary of everything you need to know about hazardous energy and lockout/tagout procedures.

What is Hazardous Energy?

Machinery used in the manufacturing and industrial industry requires a considerable amount of energy in order to run. This energy comes in different forms. Power sources can be electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, thermal, or pneumatic in nature. Energy can be hazardous to workers or employees when a machine releases energy unexpectedly.

Similar to power sources, injuries that arise from hazardous energy vary. Workers who have to deal with heavy machinery are likely to suffer from burns, lacerations, electrocutions, and crushing as a direct result of the equipment. 

What is a Lockout/Tagout Procedure?

Lockout/Tagout or LOTO procedures are the set of guidelines that protect employees from the effects of hazardous energy. These procedures include the proper disconnection of a machine from its power source and the verification that the energy used to run the machine has been isolated. Lockout or Tagout devices are needed in order to perform this procedure.

A Lockout device ensures that energy-isolation devices are in an off position unless otherwise activated. These devices are known to be heavy-duty. They require a key in order to override the system. Consequently, Tagout devices are warning equipment that informs workers when to energize the machine. They are easier to install than their Lockout counterparts.

Why is a Lockout/Tagout Procedure Important?

Lockout/Tagout procedures are important because they prevent fatal injuries from happening in the event of hazardous energy incidents.  OSHA has established guidelines in dealing with hazardous energy, and a big part of their regulations requires companies to have procedures in place regarding how to disable the power sources of affected machinery.

What are OSHA’s Standards and Requirements on Dealing with Hazardous Energy?

OSHA has set guidelines to protect workers from the effects of hazardous energy. Procedures are mainly concerned with the disconnection of the machine from the power source before maintenance or servicing. The following provides additional clarification:

Develop and Employ an Energy-Control Procedure

In order to protect affected employees, an energy control procedure must be developed by your company. This procedure must be able to outline what workers need to be aware of in terms of controlling and minimizing the effects of hazardous energy. It must also contain guidelines for the proper disposal of accumulated energy.

The language should be in line with what is accessible to the employees and it should cover all the machines that pose a threat to their safety.

Install Appropriate Lockout/Tagout Devices

Employers are required by OSHA to install Lockout or Tagout devices on machines that can cause injury to their employees. 

Provide Hazardous Energy Training for Affected Employees

Safety measures are useless if employees aren’t aware of the procedures and their roles. With that said, providing proper training to your workers on hazardous energy would ensure that everybody is on the same page. Injuries and accidents are less likely to occur when they have the proper safety information.

Inspect and Update Procedures on a Regular Basis

The types of machinery and equipment required in an industry changes over time. As such, procedures to keep workers safe must evolve as well. Additionally, safety guidelines involving energy control must be reviewed at least once per year.

What Should an Energy-Control Procedure Include?

Energy-control procedures must be in place for every form of machinery that poses an applicable risk. Also, similar equipment with the same sources of energy can be covered by the same set of guidelines.

OSHA requires:

  • A clear explanation of how to use the guidelines
  • Step by step breakdown of how to shut down, isolate, and block energy sources
  • Step by step instructions of how to install, disable, and transfer Lockout/Tagout devices
  • Step by step breakdown of how to verify the efficacy of installed Lockout/ Tagout devices

What are the Requirements for Lockout/Tagout Equipment?

The choice of Lockout or Tagout devices should depend on the equipment and its efficacy to regulate and isolate energy sources. Nevertheless, the use of both types of equipment is regulated by OSHA. They must have the following characteristics:

Durable Against Workplace Conditions

Tagout or Lockout devices must be able to withstand corrosive materials like acid and be able to maintain its function without deteriorating.

Uniform Color, Size, and Shape

Lockout and Tagout devices must be easily identifiable by the workers who use machinery often. They must also be the same color, size, and shape. With Tagout equipment, there must be clear and accurate instructions, such as but not limited to: “Do Not Open,” “Keep Closed,” and “Do Not Restart.”

Able to Withstand Extreme Measures of Removal

Lockout/Tagout safety devices must be able to withstand pressures of up to 50 lbs. Accidental removal is a real issue and as such their removal should only happen with the use of heavy-duty tools like bolt-cutters.

Labeled Properly

Tagout/Tockout devices must have labels indicating which employees are allowed to handle them. The labels need to be uniform easy to read.

What Are Your Responsibilities?

As a business owner, it's your responsibility to keep your employees safe from every type of workplace hazard. Following OSHA’s guidelines on hazardous energy is a the most effective way to ensure injuries and accidents don't happen.

However, adhering to OSHA’s rules and regulations can quickly get overwhelming. Thankfully, there are professionals like us at Safety Services Company that can help.

To learn more about how we can solve your company's hazardous energy control safety training and compliance needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. Remember, your one call could save lives and improve your company's ROI.

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