Top Ten Tips for using Lockout Tagout

With particular reference to electrical safety in the workplace

  1. Ensure that there is an effective Lockout Tagout procedure in place

Each individual piece of machinery in a place of work where Lockout Tagout is required should have it’s own Lockout Tagout procedure. Employers are required to train their members of staff to ensure that they know, understand and can follow effective Lockout Tagout procedures.

  1. Inform all those concerned (the affected persons) that the appliance is to be shut off

Affected persons should be informed that the machine is to be shut off and the reason for shut off. Common reasons for shut off include repair and maintenance.

Steps 3-10 should only be carried by authorised persons. These are the persons who are fully trained in Lockout Tagout and who are going to carry out the Lockout Tagout procedure and the machine repair or maintenance.

  1. Stop the machine in the usual manner

Check that no person is using the machinery before it is turned off. Failure to do so could cause severe injury or even death. Ensure the machine and surrounding area is clean and free of debris.

  1. Isolate the source of energy (may be multiple)

Ensure all energy sources are located. Energy sources may be in multiple locations in large factories and not necessarily in the same room as the machinery.

  1. Isolate the energy source (may be multiple)

Isolate all the energy sources identified in step 4.

  1. Release stored energy

Some machinery may have stored energy or secondary energy sources that will need releasing prior to Lockout Tagout. Examples of these energy sources include stored energy in electrical capacitors or tension in coiled springs. Electrical circuits need to be effectively checked as electrical failure may lead to the reenergising of machinery even if it has been isolated.

  1. Lockout

Lockout devices are placed over the energy source once it has been isolated in the ‘off’ position. The authorised person is the only person that will hold the key and is therefore the only person that can unlock the device following the completion of work on the machine. There are a wide range of devices to fit a variety of different switches, valves and effectors. They are commonly brightly coloured, usually red, so that they are easily visible. They are durable and designed not to be easily removed by force. There are specific devices for electrical panels to ensure that the panel door remains locked and the panel cover is not able to be removed. A ‘group lockout’ device is used when multiple authorised persons are working on the same piece of machinery. With a group lockout device each worker has their own padlock and must lock it and unlock it themselves prior to machine reactivation.

  1. Tagout

Tags are placed on the locks following lockout and must clearly display why the machine is locked, the date and time of lockout and the name of the authorised person working on the machine.

  1. Prove to be effective

Prior to the authorised person beginning the repair, the lockout procedure must be proved to be effective by attempting a start up of the machine. Ensure there are no persons or objects near the machine prior to this action.

  1. Regularly review procedures

The Lockout Tagout procedure for each piece of equipment should be reviewed annually. All employers and employees affected by Lockout Tagout need to ensure that their training is kept up to date.

By following the above steps, the risk of accidental machine start up during repair or maintenance is dramatically reduced, thus decreasing the risk of serious injury or death in the workplace.