If you’re in manufacturing you’ve probably heard the phrase lockout/tagout. While many of you already live and breathe by this safety measurement, let’s explore just what it means across the industry.
What is Lockout/Tagout?
Lockout/tagout or LOTO is a safety procedure used in the manufacturing industry to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not able to be started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or service work. It requires that hazardous energy sources be “isolated and rendered inoperative” before work is started on the equipment in question. These power sources are then locked and a tag is placed on the lock identifying the worker who has placed it. The worker then holds the key for the lock ensuring that only he or she can start the machine. This prevents accidental startup of a machine while it is in a hazardous state or while a worker is in direct contact with it. Lockout/tagout is a standard used across industries as a safe method of working on hazardous equipment and is mandated by law in many countries.
What is considered hazardous energy?
Hazardous energy can include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be dangerous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death to workers. Nearly 10% of serious accidents occur due to failure to control hazardous energy. Proper LOTO procedures safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases.
Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
These statistics make it clear that utilizing the lockout/tagout procedures are not only better for your workers safety but also benefit production. More information on training programs that comply with OSHA standards can be found here.