Safetip #21: Instructions on How to De-Energize Energy Sources
An Effective LOTO Program Is About Safety and Compliance
As part of a safety program, companies must have an effective LOTO program in place to protect workers from unexpected startup or release of stored energy that can lead to serious injury or even death. In addition, in 2015 there were 3,308 violations of OSHA’s LOTO standard (1910.147), making it the fifth most cited violation. Some helpful LOTO tips include writing machine-specific procedures and identifying all hazardous energy sources, not just electrical ones.
Provide Instructions for De-Energizing Each Energy Source
BLR produced a report on 10 Tips to Implementing a Lockout/Tagout Program. The report highlights the importance of providing instructions in written LOTO procedures that will enable workers to systematically de-energize each energy source.
Here are some instructions given by the BLR report for common energy sources:
- Steam, air, and hydraulic lines are de-energized by bleeding, draining, and cleaning out so that no pressure remains in lines or reservoir tanks.
- Mechanisms under load or pressure, such as springs, are de-energized by releasing and blocking them.
- Raised dies, lifts, or any equipment that could slide, fall, or roll are de-energized by securing them with blocks, special brackets, or special stands.
- Pipes that could carry air, steam, or hazardous substances must be blinded (covered with a metal disk to ensure that no substance will pass through that point if the system is accidentally activated).
- Electrical circuits must be checked by qualified persons with proper and calibrated electrical testing equipment to ensure that the equipment could not become energized with the switch in the “off” position.
- Stored energy in electrical capacitors should be safely discharged.
Finally, the BLR report says that securing many of the energy sources mentioned above is done with a piece of equipment other than a lock (e.g. a blind, a block). All of the equipment needed for safe LOTO must be provided to workers.
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