Safetip #119: Appoint Lockout Leaders

March 21, 2018
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and using lockout leaders to advance LOTO practices.

Lockout/Tagout is a Frequently Cited Violation

When machines or equipment are being serviced or maintained, stored energy can be released during an unexpected startup, which can cause serious injuries. Types of energy sources that can be hazardous to workers include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, and others.

Lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures protect workers by requiring that hazardous energy sources be isolated and rendered inoperative before work starts on a machine or equipment. This is done by placing a lockout device that isolates the energy source, or a tagout device instead of a lockout device if it provides equivalent protection. Lockout and tagout devices prevent the accidental startup of a machine or equipment while it is in a hazardous state or while a worker is in direct contact with it.

Failure to control hazardous energy accounts for almost 10% of serious accidents in many industries, according to OSHA. In addition, OSHA’s LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147) consistently ranks among the top 10 most frequently cited standards. For fiscal year 2017, the LOTO standard was the 5th most frequently cited standard.

Lockout Leaders Help to Advance LOTO Practices

A written LOTO program is a good start, but it’s not enough. There must also be a safety culture where LOTO procedures are seen as normal and routine aspects of the job, not extra or optional steps. To help with this, an article in OH&S Magazine puts forward the idea of having lockout leaders in place to advance LOTO practices. Some of the activities of lockout leaders highlighted in the article include:

  • Leading by example by consistently using good lockout practices. Showing good lockout practices in their personal work.
  • Using their knowledge to train others. Providing hands-on training for the machinery in their assigned areas. Making sure existing lockout procedures are accurate and well understood during hands-on training.
  • Reinforcing good practices that are observed, and correcting insufficient practices that are noticed.
  • Answering questions and providing ongoing guidance.
  • Verifying new or modified machines or equipment in their area to be sure new or updated lockout procedures will fully isolate the equipment before it goes into service.
  • Performing periodic inspections in real time as part of safety observations. Inspecting authorized personnel and equipment-specific lockout procedures in their assigned work area.

Lockout leaders help to engage workers to participate in LOTO practices, which helps to further reduce risks of incidents from hazardous energy sources.

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