Develop Machine-Specific Lockout/Tagout Procedures
Lockout/Tagout Should Be a High Priority
When a machine or equipment is being serviced, stored energy can be released during an unexpected startup, creating risks of injuries. Energy sources can be electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures protect workers by requiring that hazardous energy sources be isolated, and made inoperative before work starts on a machine or equipment. A lockout device is used to isolate the energy source. A tagout device can be used instead of a lockout device if it provides equivalent protection.
Having proper LOTO procedures is not just about keeping workers safe. It is also about compliance. For the last five years in a row, OSHA’s LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147) has been ranked among the top five most frequently cited violations by the agency. Lockout/Tagout should be a high priority in your occupational safety program.
Machine- or Equipment-Specific Procedures
OSHA provides a simple lockout procedure to help companies meet the requirements of its LOTO standard. For more complex systems, OSHA says that more comprehensive procedures may need to be developed.
However, it is not a good idea to use OSHA’s procedure as a single, generic procedure that can be applied across the board. LOTO procedures must be specific to each machine or equipment. A publication by BLR, 10 Tips to Implementing a Lockout/Tagout Program, lists the items that must be part of a procedure for each machine or equipment, including:
- Statement on how to use the procedure.
- Steps or sequence to shut down, isolate, block and secure the machine or equipment.
- Steps outlining the safe placement, removal and transfer of lockout/tagout devices.
- Identification of who has responsibility for the lockout/tagout devices.
- Requirements for testing the machine or equipment to determine and check the effectiveness of lockout/tagout devices and other energy-control measures.
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