Lockout/Tagout” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.
This requires, in part, that a designated individual turns off and disconnects the machinery or equipment from its energy source(s) before performing service or maintenance and that the authorized employee(s) either lock or tag the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and take steps to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.
If the potential exists for the release of hazardous stored energy or for the reaccumulation of stored energy to a hazardous level, the employer must ensure that the employee(s) take steps to prevent injury that may result from the release of the stored energy. Lockout devices hold energy-isolation devices in a safe or “off” position.
They provide protection by preventing machines or equipment from becoming energized because they are positive restraints that no one can remove without a key or other unlocking mechanism, or through extraordinary means, such as bolt cutters.
Tagout devices, by contrast, are prominent warning devices that an authorized employee fastens to energy-isolating devices to warn employees not to reenergize the machine while he or she services or maintains it. Tagout devices are easier to remove and, by themselves, provide employees with less protection than do lockout devices.
When to use LOTO procedures
The unexpected energization of the machine can seriously injure or even kill someone. It’s necessary LOTO procedures are closely followed when dealing with hazardous energy. The following are some of the more common situations where LOTO is used.
Performing Repairs within Heavy Machinery
Whether a machine has broken down, or it is just time for regularly scheduled maintenance, it is important to ensure the machine is entirely shut down before entering. The LOTO procedure will help ensure that the machine does not move or become energized while someone is physically within that machine.
Entering Areas with Moving Machine Parts
There are many dangerous areas surrounding many machines. For example, robotic arms or welding heads that move around to complete tasks. These moving parts of machines can cause serious injuries or even death if someone gets in their way. Removing power from the entire machine, and using the LOTO process, will ensure this does not happen.
Reaching Into a Machine to Remove Damaged Part
If a part gets damaged within a machine, it may become necessary for someone to reach in to remove it. Putting your hand into a machine that cuts, welds, or crushes things has some obvious dangers associated with it. The LOTO procedure will dramatically reduce the risk of having to take this type of action by ensuring the machine is completely shut down before someone works on it.
Many Other Situations
There are many other situations where the LOTO procedure will help to keep people safe in the workplace. In addition to helping protect employees who work with or around dangerous machinery, this procedure can also help to keep the machines themselves safe. When they engage in situations where they shouldn’t, it can damage the machine or things in the area. Following the LOTO program will help to ensure the entire facility can safely operate without problems.
How do I know if the OSHA standard applies to me?
If your employees service or maintain machines where the unexpected startup, energization, or the release of stored energy could cause injury, the standard likely applies to you. The standard applies to all sources of energy, including, but not limited to: mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, and thermal energy.
The standard does not cover electrical hazards from work on, near, or with conductors or equipment in electric utilization (premise wiring) installations, which are outlined in Subpart S of 29 CFR Part 1910. You can find the specific lockout and tagout provisions for electrical shock and burn hazards in 29 CFR Part 1910.333.
Controlling hazardous energy in installations for the exclusive purpose of power generation, transmission, and distribution, including related equipment for communication or metering, is covered by 29 CFR 1910.269. The standard also does not cover the agriculture, construction, and maritime industries or oil and gas well drilling and servicing. Other standards concerning the control of hazardous energy, however, apply in many of these industries/situations.