Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure that ensures that dangerous machines are properly shut off without the ability to turn back on before the completion of maintenance or repair work. OSHA requires personnel to isolate and render inoperative all applicable machinery and equipment. Lockout-Tagout occurs during startup or shut down of all machinery.
A worker or manager isolates the machinery, locks it up, and then places a tag on the lock so that other workers can identify where the LOTO areas are and who locked them. The employee responsible for Lockout-Tagout holds a key and is the only person designated to lock or unlock the equipment. This designation prevents other workers from accidentally starting a machine and creating a potential hazard in the workplace.
Lockout-Tagout is a common OSHA-regulated safety procedure that is practiced across a wide range of industries.
Understanding Hazardous Energy
Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. An unexpected startup or sudden release of energy can result in serious injury or fatality to workers.
In most, cases hazardous energy occurs during the service and maintenance of machines and equipment. Lockout-Tagout injuries may include:
OSHA Standards for Lockout-Tagout
OSHA requires that employers protect workers from hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining equipment and machinery. OSHA standards include
● Develop, implement, and enforce an energy control program.
● Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out.
● Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
● Develop, implement, and enforce an effective Tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
● Develop, document, implement, and enforce energy control procedures.
● Use only Lockout-Tagout devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized, and substantial.
● Ensure that Lockout-Tagout devices identify the individual users.
● Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a Lockout-Tagout device to remove it.
● Inspect energy control procedures at least annually.
● Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.
● Comply with the additional energy control provisions in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned.
Required Tag Information
Workers who are responsible for Lockout/Tagout should use OSHA-approved tags. Proper tags give workers the necessary information they need for avoiding the startup of a machine.
All tags should include the following:
● Red and White colors that instantly signify a possible startup hazard around machinery or equipment.
● The name of the worker that placed the tag on the lock. The name information establishes who is solely designated to remove the tag and unlock the machinery.
● The most recent date of the Lockout/Tagout. The longer the time intervals between Lockout/Tagout, the greater the potential hazard becomes.
● Expected completion date.
● The expected completion date of the inspection/evaluation of the equipment or the potential startup hazard.
● A clear notification that the tag and lock may only be removed by the person whose name is on the tag.
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