Provide Instructions on De-Energizing All Energy Sources
Lockout/Tagout Violations Are Frequent
When a machine or equipment is being serviced or repaired, there could be a risk of an unexpected startup or energizing, which can release stored energy. This can result in a fatality or serious injury.
Lockout/tagout (LOTO), or isolation, prevents the unexpected release of stored energy, in order to protect workers. LOTO procedures aim to isolate hazardous energy sources, and render a machine or equipment inoperative before work starts.
The OSHA standard for the control of hazardous energy outlines actions and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. The standard has been among the top five most cited violations for the last five years. Having an effective LOTO program is about ensuring both safety and compliance.
Different Sources of Hazardous Energy
As part of a LOTO program, provide written instructions on how to de-energize all energy sources, not just electrical ones. Sources of hazardous energy can be electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, etc.
A BLR publication, 10 Tips to Implementing a Lockout/Tagout Program, gives the following examples of instructions that you can include in your LOTO procedures:
- Steam, air and hydraulic lines: De-energize by bleeding, draining and cleaning out so that no pressure remains in lines or reservoir tanks.
- Mechanisms under load or pressure (e.g. springs): De-energize by releasing and blocking them.
- Raised dies, lifts or any equipment that could slide, fall or roll: De-energize by securing them with blocks, special brackets or special stands.
- Pipes that could carry air, steam or hazardous chemicals: Cover with a metal disk to ensure that nothing will pass through that point if the system is accidentally activated.
- Electrical circuits: Have them checked by a qualified person 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: Safely discharge.
Finally, be sure that the instructions are easily accessible through a central system, and also through mobile devices.
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