Thursday, June 13, 2024

Understanding Lockout/Tagout in Workplace Safety

All employers are required by law to implement various measures that ensure workplace safety. Some of these measures are covered under what are known as lockout/tagout procedures, based on the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). These procedures are critical for all industries as they help prevent accidents, injuries, and fatalities related to energy and machines.

In this guide, we’ll go through the lockout/tagout procedures to help you ensure a safe and compliant workplace.

What is Lockout/Tagout?

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure used in workplaces to protect workers from dangerous energy when doing repairs or maintenance. 

The procedure involves two key actions: “lockout” and “tagout.” 

  • Lockout: This is the process of using a lock on machines that have been disconnected from power and de-energized. The locking out is done using devices such as padlocks, locking hasps, valve lockouts, and others you can get from a workplace safety supplier like RS. The main aim of the lockout is to prevent other employees from energizing a device that is being worked on, something that can even be lethal.
  • Tagout: When a device has been locked out, it also needs a tag. This tag is placed near the lockout device and warns all employees that the equipment is under maintenance and should not be used or reconnected to power. Some tags offer additional information, such as the person who applied the lock.

Implementing LOTO requires that you follow a step-by-step process. This includes shutting down the equipment, isolating all energy sources, applying lockout devices, tagging the locks, and verifying that the energy isolation is effective.

Why is Lockout/Tagout Essential?

The main goal of LOTO procedures is to prevent accidental injuries and fatalities. These can happen if a maintenance or repair worker starts operating on a machine whose energy sources haven’t been completely isolated. It can also be a result of a different worker, such as the janitor or an employee who uses the machine, reconnecting it to power.

LOTO procedures are quite helpful to technical staff as they can work on different machines knowing that they aren’t at risk of accidental reconnections. They are also a regulatory requirement for all industries based in the UK.

The Key Components of a Lockout/Tagout Program

A LOTO program has several critical elements.

Written LOTO Policy & Procedures

Each company needs to have written-down procedures and policies for implementing LOTO. The policy should outline all types of machines and energy sources in use. The procedures should then give employees a step-by-step process to follow when implementing LOTO.

Lockout/Tagout Devices

Lockout and tagout devices are what you need to prevent accidental reconnections. These are available in different types, and you need to ensure that the ones you choose are suitable to the types and sizes of your machines. You can also decide on the information you want your lockout tags to bear.

Employee Training

If your employees don’t have a good understanding of the LOTO policies and procedures you’ve put in place, they won’t follow them properly. This means that you need to take them through a comprehensive training program. This should encompass all employees, not only the maintenance staff. There are those affected by LOTO procedures, those who aren’t affected, and those who implement the processes.

Periodic Inspections

Training alone is not enough, as people can forget or disregard procedures. This means that you need to have an inspection plan to see whether all maintenance crew follow the right procedures. During the inspection, you should also look at your lockout and tagout devices. Are they all in good shape, and are all types of machines covered? This will help ensure that employees have a good basis for implementing LOTO safety protocols.

Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak is a passionate wordsmith and puzzle enthusiast. With a love for language and a knack for problem-solving, Alena enjoys diving into the world of crosswords, finding solace in the daily challenge of the NYT Mini Crossword. When not unraveling word puzzles, Alena can be found exploring new books or indulging in creative writing endeavors. Join Alena on a journey through the world of words and puzzles.

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