How many times are we asked to do more with less? Do you scratch your head and think about some reasonable way to accomplish these tasks while making all parties happy?
When it comes to electrical safety, Lockout/Tagout, or as some refer to it as LOTO, is a term that seems to get tossed around a lot. We have so many acronyms to keep up with these days—this is not one you can afford to miss out on fully understanding.
Safety and Productivity: It used to be two separate requests, but with standards and guidance from trained safety consultants, this can and must be done as one.
The Five Components of Lockout/Tagout from Rockwell Automation
Lockout/tagout procedures are a major component of a compliant lockout/tagout
program. The five required components are:
• Corporate Policy: Use this policy as the foundation of your organization’s lockout/tagout program. Each policy is unique to each facility location and should adapt with time.
• Machine-Specific Procedures: Create machine-specific procedures for every piece of equipment in your facility and install that procedure right at the point of use. The existence of these procedures will not only help assure compliance, but also encourage the authorized employees to follow it when they are locking the equipment out.
• Training: Provide training to both authorized and affected employees. ‘Authorized’ are those who are applying the locks and ‘affected’ are those in the area during a lockout, such as operators. Don’t forget about contractors working on your site – they are considered affected employees if they are in proximity of a lockout but not involved and you need to be sure they are trained and approved prior to applying a lock as they will then be considered authorized.
• Locks and Devices: Purchase locks and devices that are specific for lockout/tagout and uniform in make and color. Ensure enough locks, identification tags, and isolation devices are available for the volumes of equipment to be locked out and that all types of isolating devices are available for the various types of isolation points (ball valves, gate valves, breakers, etc.).
• Annual Audits: Review every lockout/tagout procedure at least yearly and audit the authorized employees as well. This is done to confirm that your company’s program integrity is maintained. Be sure to keep all of the data collected during the audit as proof of compliance.
Lockout/Tagout: Three Key Takeaways
With the safety of employees, as well as equipment in mind, we must also consider a well-documented program either by paper record or electronic databases. Isolating hazardous energy sources and minimizing risk is a proven measure to protect employees and your investments.
Just as lack of controls and lack of employee training can lead to a dangerous workplace, the adoption of safety and risk management best practices can help manufacturers keep employees safer and be more productive.
Compliance with state and federal safety regulations, including OSHA, is a goal of all companies, regardless of size. Ensuring that your documented lockout/tagout procedures are both comprehensive and compliant will result in a safer workplace and reduced concern for safety violations or fines. In addition, workplace supervisors will know that they are doing all they can to provide a secure environment focused on safety and productivity.
In general, more than 95 percent of all equipment in a facility will need a LOTO procedure (think water heaters, air handler units, exhaust fans, etc.). OSHA can cite your company up to $70,000 per occurrence for each missing LOTO procedure.
Beyond improved safety and compliance, there is a quantifiable productivity return on investment associated with advanced lockout/tagout procedures. The procedures will allow your authorized employees to quickly lockout equipment and restore it to service, which will result in more equipment availability, less time spent by the authorized employee, and less equipment/process down time. Depending on how much a production minute and employee hour costs you, you may notice a return on investment in as little as a few months.
Click here for an overview on LOTO procedures.
For more information about LOTO and other safety services, contact one of our Kirby Risk specialists: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by: Jessica Gallaway, Automation Specialist, Peoria, IL & Tim O’Dell, Automation Specialist, Mt Vernon. IL