OSHA standards related to control of hazardous energy require companies to formulate effective energy isolation processes that best suit their workplace, after careful consideration of the different energy sources being used in the manufacturing facility. When Locking Out an Energy Source each type of energy source should be locked out by applying the right lockout device and tagged appropriately to visually warn people who share or use the same work area. While ball, gate and butterfly valves serve to lockout pneumatic and hydraulic systems, electrical energy is isolated by using suitable Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB) lockout toggles or pin-in/pin-out devices that best fit the purpose. These devices help in the isolation of residual energy as well. However, a visible warning – either colour-coded or engraved – on the device or by means of appropriate tags is always an integral part of the lockout tagout process, for not every employee on the premises can identify or recognise a lockout device.
We’ve just seen tags offer the much needed colour-coded, textual, diagrammatic or pictorial indications of warnings during lockouts. However, they play an even greater role in cases where energy-isolation devices cannot be physically locked out. Energy isolation equipment that do not support hasps, safety padlocks, lockable switches, or snap on valve covers need to be appropriately tagged out to let people know that a particular energy source has been isolated and should not be accessed.
While it is advisable that these devices be eventually upgraded to ensure better workplace safety, and lockouts are fool-proof during extensive repairs or maintenance, companies can continue to rely on effective use of tags to implement a successful lockout tagout process, by following OSHA tagout regulations.
While tags can directly be placed on or along with lockout devices, they must be placed as closely as possible to the energy isolation machine if it can’t be locked out. It is important to note that tags are not physical restraints and all employees must be trained to recognise and respect these warnings.
A comprehensive range of quality lockout tagout devices, including Universal Circuit Breaker lockouts, Pin In / Pin Out lockouts, ball, butterfly and gate valves for energy isolation, tags of different sizes and shapes, as well as custom tags are featured at www.Lockoutsafety.com.
The size and shape of the tag are bound to vary, based on usage. Coloured tags are simple and usually enough to convey the message. However, custom tags with employee photo, technician details, maintenance details, specific instructions or warnings prove quite informative and useful to avoid accidental energisation of equipment under repair. Also, tags and tag attachments should be sturdy enough to withstand harsh conditions at the workplace.
Choosing the right tag is important for accident-free tagouts. With OSHA compliant tags from trustworthy brands, and dealers and a well-designed tagout process in place, tags can prove quite effective for lockout tagout implementation as well.
Lockout/tagout specialist and the author of this post, Cathal McGrath can be reached at +353 (0) 57 866 2162 or [email protected] for further information.