The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) abounds in cases of injury, and in some case death, to workers as a result of negligence on the part of employers to ensure adequate safety. Only as recently as November 2013, the HSE fined an employer after an electrician suffered burns to his face, hands and arms while carrying out live electrical testing in December 2010.
The employer had failed to have in place a safe system of work by failing to ensure that the electricity supply to the distribution boards was de-energised during removal and replacement of the covers.
Every year there are many easily avoidable accidents that take place within working environments. These can be life threatening and can even be fatal, but could easily be prevented by the use of a lockout.
A lockout device stops something from being switched on when it is absolutely essential that it remains switched off. Under the lockout/tagout (LOTO) regulations enforced by regulatory bodies, it is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that correct LOTO procedures are observed.
Control of hazardous energy needs to be performed according to a six-step procedure: preparing for shutdown, shutting down equipment, isolating all energy sources to the equipment, fitting locks and tags, releasing stored energy and verifying that equipment is isolated.
An effective example of a lockout procedure is to fully isolate an energy source ahead of maintenance work, which would entail identifying the energy source, isolating it, and then locking and tagging it to prove the equipment is isolated. These locks should not be removed until the work is completed, and each engineer has signed off that work is completed.
There are many kinds of lockout devices available on the market, each of which is suitable for a different application. To cater for the needs of professionals PASS has launched www.lockout-lock.com, a dedicated website for 21 categories of safety-compliant lockout/tagout devices, advising that a clearly-defined lockout/tagout procedure is followed to ensure the safety of workers carrying out repairs and servicing.
For further information, visit PASS Ltd’s dedicated lockout/tagout website.