6 LOTO Best Practices To Train Against

Safety is the bottom line in any factory, and it’s up to manufacturers to implement policies and practices that promote safety at every possible juncture. Nowhere is this more evident than when dealing with hazardous energy.

Lockout-tagout (LOTO) is the gold standard for safety when it comes to servicing equipment with high power draw. It’s a tightly defined system with no margin for error — even the smallest unchecked variable can result in a deadly mistake. Training against a well-defined LOTO process is imperative. Manufacturers should consider a few crucial best practices in defining a life-saving LOTO strategy.

The critical importance of LOTO

LOTO protocols are critical when it comes to keeping employees safe on the job. By focusing on the prevention of unexpected energization or startup of equipment and machinery, workers can stay safe when performing both routine and non-routine activities.

For example, what happens when workers need to repair a machine? How can they be sure an unaware colleague won’t turn on the power, putting them in significant danger? That’s where LOTO procedures come into play.

LOTO programs keep hazardous energy, including electricity, air, chemicals, heat, hydraulics, and more, from hurting employees. While plenty of safeguards exist to protect workers while machines are in normal operation, they’re often removed or disabled during repairs. LOTO protocols keep this hazardous energy controlled during repairs and other activities to keep workers safe.

6 essential LOTO best practices

At the most basic level, LOTO ensures machinery and equipment are safe to perform repairs or maintenance by locking the energy-isolating devices that power them. This allows authorized employees to complete their work without worrying about whether the machine will come to life while they’re in harm’s way. Some lockout best practices include:

  1. Notify workers of the LOTO. Workers must listen and understand the instructions given by the worker who’s performing LOTO protocol.
  2. Use appropriate equipment (locks). Always use designated locks and tags to indicate servicing or maintenance needs, clearly identifying any associated hazards.
  3. Mark all tags clearly and thoroughly. Include the names — and photos, if possible — of workers authorized to perform maintenance on particular equipment.
  4. Lock primary and secondary energy sources. For complex machines and equipment with multiple hazardous energy sources, secure each lockout point.
  5. Verify and double-check all lockouts. Double-check all lockouts, including those that relate to secondary sources of hazardous energy.
  6. Stay current on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Safety Council (NSC) training. Lockout/tagout practices are among OSHA’s top-cited violations. Stay up to date on the latest best practices.

Proper LOTO training saves lives

LOTO training is a fundamental aspect of safety in the workplace. When it comes to protecting the lives of workers on the job, it’s invaluable. Manufacturing leaders should standardize approaches and equipment for LOTO, following OSHA standards to ensure each worker knows, understands, and can follow all applicable provisions of hazardous energy control procedures. Lives are at stake, and following appropriate LOTO procedures protects them.

LOTO is a critical part of maintenance safety. Make sure you’re working with a maintenance partner that always takes LOTO into account, like the professionals at Global Electronic Services. Contact us for all your industrial electronic, servo motor, AC and DC motor, hydraulic, and pneumatic needs — and don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook!
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