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Understanding Lockout/Tagout And Its Importance

The OSHA Lockout/Tagout standard covers the servicing and maintaining of all of your equipment where there could be an unexpected start-up or cycling of the equipment or a release of stored energy that could cause injury to your employees.

OSHA defines the locking out of a piece of equipment as the act of placing a lock and lockout device on an energy isolating device to prevent energizing the equipment being worked on. But are we just talking about electrical energy?No we are not.Your Lockout/Tagout program must include hydraulic and pneumatic power, stored energy in springs, capacitors and gravity, natural gas/propane, steam, liquids and any other source of energy that can cause an action to a piece of equipment or machine that in turn could injure an employee.(Remember to ground out capacitors per manufacturers instructions so that a piece of equipment does not cycle after it has been locked and tagged out due to stored energy.)

The A, B, C’s of Lockout/Tagout
What does a Lockout/Tagout program consist of you ask?First of all, it must be a written program that has machine specific energy control procedures for all of the equipment in your facility.It must include the following 3-levels of training: awareness for employees who do not perform the lock/tagout procedures; machine specific and hands-on (Periodic Inspection) training for the employees who perform the actual lockout/tagout procedures.

Your written program procedures must include a statement of intent, specific steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking, and securing equipment from the hazardous energy, placement, removal, and transfer of lockout devices, give responsibilities or ownership to individuals, requirements for testing the equipment to make sure the lockout/tagout is effective, and have a method to document each lockout/tagout event.

By stature, employers must supply all the hardware necessary for an effective program, cost free to the employees.So open up your pocket books folks.You will be filling your Lockout/Tagout kits with many locks (with no 2 locks keyed alike), lockouts, chains, various sized ball and gate valves, lockout devices, self-locking fasteners, tags, plug lockouts (used while repairing sewing machines and any other piece of equipment that is energized by a plug), jacks, stanchions, etc.Locks must be dedicated to the program.That is right, you can not take a lock off a tool box the use it to lock out a piece of equipment.
It should be noted that the Lockout/Tagout standard is what is called a Performance standard.This means that the employer has some latitude and flexibility with the program.The bottom line is you must ensure your employees are safe at all times.

Exceptions to the Rule
You do not have to comply with the standard during normal operations unless a guard is removed, a safety device is bypassed, or an employee must place a tool or part of their body into equipment where the work is actually performed (call the point of operation) or into a machine cycle danger zone.As with all rules, there are exceptions.You do not have to comply with the standard during troubling shooting providing the trouble shooter is a qualified individual and is not placing her/himself into danger.The same goes for making minor adjustments that can only be made with the equipment energized.However, when possible, try to stay away from exceptions because employees have been known to use exceptions as a license to work in a less-than-safe environment.
When should you use a tag?Always place a tag with the lock.If the nearest energy disconnect is out of site of the control panel of the equipment, place a second tag on the equipment control panel on/off button.

Using the conservative approach, there should be a management lock on the lockout device that stays on the lockout until the job is complete.This insures continuity of safety until the completion of the job.The employees’ locks are removed once they are done for the day or are reassigned.This ensures coverage during shift changes or multiple employer activities.

All employees must be given awareness training prior to beginning their employment with you.Authorized employees need 2 additional types of training, Machine Specific Lockout/Tagout and Periodic Inspection training.Periodic Inspection is an annual event conducted to make sure that no equipment or engineering changes affected the validity of your procedures.After you have reviewed the procedures for each piece of equipment and made any necessary changes, you must then review the written procedures with all authorized employees and observe them performing an actual lockout/tagout event.Remember to document all training.

Well, that‘s all the time I have this issue.Have a safe month!

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Faultless Laundry Spending $12 million on New Plant

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Faultless Laundry Co. is spending almost $12 million on a facility to accommodate its growing St. Louis business which has grown from 28 million pounds to 36 million pounds due to a new contract. Faultless serves more than 30 acute hospitals and over 400 retail medical locations in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.