The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and standards regarding lockout/tagout are aimed at protecting the workplace, staff and machinery from accidents that may occur during maintenance or repairs. Despite elaborate recommendations and audits, fatalities still continue and their severities range from mild shocks and missing fingers to lost lives.
While using suitable lockout/tagout devices from specialist dealers such as lockoutsafety.com is a must to ensure adequate safety, it is equally important for the staff and technicians to strictly follow charted lockout processes to prevent any accidental damages.
A comprehensive range of lockout devices at lockoutsafety.com can help put together a custom kit for specific lockout programs.
Here are a few common lockout tagout mistakes that may prove fatal.
It is a common precaution to shut down the machine and disconnect it from the power source before putting it to work. However, some employees accidentally or deliberately skip this step. There are a few other cases where units are energized using multiple sources, which makes it mandatory to identify all sources of energy and shut down all of them. A switch is just one intermediate powering device. Flipping it off is not equivalent to disconnecting the main power.
Shutting down a piece of equipment or cutting off the power supply does not necessarily mean the unit is safe to handle. Energy stored in batteries, excess pressure built up within a system, machines still hot from their previous run, pipes still containing hot or toxic liquids and gases all need to be drained of residual substances – exposure to which can prove quite fatal.
Making sure that the power sources are disconnected, movable machine parts firmly locked in place, residues emptied and equipment locked out is a must before commencing repairs.
Missing out of any of the above checks usually prove fatal.
Similarly, it is also important to check if tools and floors are cleared and all connections restored before unlocking and re-starting the machines to open up the place for regular use.
Each employee entrusted with maintenance or repair jobs must be trained on safety and lockout procedures for systems and equipment under their control. Lack of training not only puts the technician’s life at risk, but also compromises on the safety of others on the shop floor. The training course from www.lockoutsafety.com can prove valuable for employers looking to create awareness on lockout safety among their workforce.
Specialized equipment or integrated systems that require elaborate lockout procedures should be handled with additional care. Specific lockout devices for each part and identification tags for each employee on the job are a must, without which the maintenance process could prove a challenge.
It is usually normal for each technician to hold his or her own set of tagged lockout devices with a single key (to facilitate the task) for accountability, responsibility and traceability purposes. Duplicate or master keys may be used by others without fully verifying if the equipment or area has been cleared for operations. Sharing locks are a potential problem with equally dangerous consequences.
In most cases, it is also overconfidence, experience and familiarity with the facilities or procedures that influences people to overlook these lockout basics.
Preventing accidents at the workplace is a joint responsibility of the employer and employees.
Common, careless mistakes in handling heavy machinery and complex industrial systems do take a heavy toll. However, suitable lockout/tagout programs, policies, procedures, training and devices can make the process more effective and safe.
Lockout/tagout specialist and the author of this post, Cathal McGrath can be reached at 057 866 2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.