Identify Non-Electrical Energy Sources for LOTO Procedures - Safetip #163

Safety Tip and Best Practice
March 13, 2019
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about identifying all sources of hazardous energy, not just electrical sources, as part of a Lockout/Tagout program.

Lockout/Tagout Should Be a High Priority

Lockout/Tagout (or isolation) is used to control and prevent worker contact with hazardous energy. The release of stored energy during an unexpected energizing or start-up of an equipment or machine that is being serviced or repaired can result in injury or fatality.

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 also be used instead of a lockout device if it provides equivalent protection.

OSHA’s LOTO standard consistently ranks among the top 10 most frequently cited violations. In fact, it has been in the top five for the last five consecutive years. LOTO procedures should be high on the priority list of EHS, Safety and Plant managers. It’s not only about safety, but also about compliance.

Many Different Types of Hazardous Energy

According to a BLR report on tips to implementing a Lockout/Tagout program, one common mistake in LOTO programs consists of only identifying a machine’s main power source, generally its electrical power source, and neglecting other potential sources of hazardous energy.

As part of your LOTO program, be sure to look at ALL sources of hazardous energy, not just electrical sources. Here are examples of non-electrical sources:

  • Mechanical energy. Created by a machine’s moving parts such as wheels, springs, elevated parts. It can also be due to gravity (things falling or rolling down).
  • Hydraulic energy. Created from pressurized or moving liquids, like water or oil, in accumulators, lines or pipes.
  • Pneumatic energy. Created from pressurized, compressed or moving gas or air found in tanks, lines or pipes.
  • Chemical energy. Created by a chemical reaction between two or more substances or mixtures.
  • Thermal energy. Heat energy, especially steam energy.
  • Stored energy. Energy stored in batteries and capacitors.

After identifying all sources of hazardous energy, remember to document them for all sites throughout your organization. This allows you to identify the types of operations that require lockout or tagout.

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

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