What do you need to know about lockout/tagout?

Lockout/tagout (LOTO) refers to the OSHA standard for the Control of Hazardous Energy (29 CFR 1910.147). A LOTO program addresses the steps necessary to disable machinery or equipment that could release hazardous energy or start unexpectedly during servicing or maintenance activities.

OSHA’s standard covers several hazardous energies, including electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, chemical, and thermal, and requires the adoption and implementation of practices and procedures to shut down equipment, isolate it from its energy source(s), and prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while maintenance and servicing activities are being performed.

Workers performing service or maintenance on machinery and equipment may be exposed to injuries from the unexpected energization, startup of the machinery or equipment, or release of stored energy in the equipment. Injuries can include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts, and more.

Lockout/Tagout Training

Training is one of the key components for a LOTO program and should be done when:

  • New employees come on board
  • New piece of equipment is introduced
  • New energy source is introduced, or lockout tagout procedures change
  • A supervisor/manager deems that a worker is not properly following or understanding the lockout tagout procedures

Retraining of all employees must be done to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods

While the OSHA standard implies that you must train everyone in the workplace on lockout/tagout; the key is the level of training that is needed, what I refer to as “training to the 3 A’s.” Training should be based on:

  • Authorized, those who do lockout procedures on equipment for maintenance
  • Affected, those who do NOT perform lockout requirements but use the machinery/equipment receiving maintenance
  • All others, those who do NOT use the machinery but who are in the area where machinery/equipment are receiving maintenance

Lockout/Tagout Programs

The best way to ensure compliance with OSHA’s Control of Hazardous Energy standard is by creating a lockout/tagout program that clearly:

  • Defines lockout policies and procedures
  • Establishes procedures for controlling hazardous energy during maintenance and servicing
  • Outlines the training program for the three levels of workers

Resource:

OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Fact Sheet describes the practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent hazardous energy release.

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