During maintenance procedures, it is of the utmost importance that everything that can cause damage to human beings is shut down, residual energy is removed and the energy source that powers dangerous machinery or equipment is effectively isolated, preventing it from being switched on until the maintenance is carried out and a designated individual removes the lockout tagout equipment once – and only once – all employees are accounted for and moved away from the machinery about to be reenergised.
This process is known as lockout tagout, and it is extremely good practice to enforce these procedures in the workplace, provide adequate training to employees on lockout tagout (LOTO) and make sure that the procedures are being carried out via regular inspections.
There are countless horror stories from around the world when lockout tagout hasn’t been enforced. Limbs have been cut off; people have sustained nasty injuries and even lost their lives because a machine was reenergised before it should have been. No matter what kind of energy powers a device, it simply must be locked out.
It isn’t enough to just switch off the power switch that activates a piece of machinery. Residual energy such as gravity or even electrical power might be left over, and this may suddenly activate a machine without warning. This residual energy must also be siphoned off, or blockers must be implemented to ensure things such as heavy presses can’t fall down when not in operation.
Once this is accomplished, the user attaches a compatible lockout device to the isolation point. Depending on what type of energy source the point is depends on what type of lockout is used, and there are specific lockout devices for valves, electrical circuit breakers, push-button switches and a whole lot more. Once this is attached, the user, and other employees, secures this lockout device in place by attaching and securing various different padlocks. Each person who attached a lock should then be responsible for removing it once the work is completed.
Tagout refers to the process of attaching relevant signs and indicators to the lockout point that warn others that LOTO is currently in operation. Without this there’s always a chance that someone might try to reactivate the energy source by removing the lockout device as they think maintenance isn’t in operation, and this can have disastrous effects. Tagout equipment provides visual deterrents designed to stop people from doing this, and is an important part of any lockout procedure.
To aid with isolating different forms of energy sources we’ve put together a selection of lockout tagout kits that contain a wide variety of different types of LOTO equipment. We stock kits for use on electrical applications, pneumatic applications, valves and miniature circuit breakers.