It is a fact that a great number of accidents in industry are caused by accidental start-up of machinery, or by not following the safety procedures required in shutting down and restarting heavy plant or equipment.
Health and safety in the workplace may seem like it is made up of regulations that are there to get in the way and take up time, but in fact those rules and regulations are for our own benefit. The days of lax safety procedures are long gone, and now there is a strong emphasis on the employer to make sure they are providing a workplace that is safe to be in.
Where heavy and powerful equipment is concerned, it is vital that all safety procedures are followed to the letter. Not to do so could result in serious injury, or even fatality. This is why we put up with often-restrictive rules and regulations, and the number of lives saved across the years is undoubtedly many.
We’re here to talk about lockout-tagout procedures; this is a universal set of procedures that has been put in place to ensure that machinery can only be operated at certain times, and even then only by personnel who are authorised. Let’s have a closer look at what it’s all about.
How Lockout-Tagout Works
The lockout-tagout process is a simple one, yet it requires a set of rules to be followed to get it right. It also relies on one individual being designated as the person responsible for shutting down the machine, and for restarting it when required.
The reason for this is as follows: if a machine need a maintenance team to work on it, they need to be certain it is correctly shut down and isolated before they begin. If, for example, the procedure is applied to machinery such as a forklift, lockout-tagout precludes it being driven or even started by anyone bar the authorised user.
To perform a lockout-tagout shutdown, the user needs to do the following:
1: Inform all of the shutdown
2: locate the power source
3: isolate the power source
4: lock and tag the power source
5: check that the machine is immobile
The second point is important because there are many occasions where a machine may have more than one available power source. There are also those in which there may be other dangers present that need to be shut down, referred to as danger sources. These include:
- Hot and cold surfaces
- Gases and dangerous liquids
- Moving parts such as blades
These are just a few examples that need to be attended to, and there are many more. Lockout/tagout can be applied to any major item of machinery, equipment or plant, and it is essential that training is provided. You also need to make sure you have the right equipment – Substation Safety can help you out there.
There are people who can provide not only the dedicated locking systems for use with lockout-tagout, but also on the job training so your team knows what is needed. The chosen individuals need to be aware that, when the lockout procedure is in place, they cannot pass the responsibility to another person.
They also need to be present to perform the restart, and permission cannot be given to others over the phone or by any other means.
If you have machinery that you think would benefit from the lockout/tagout procedure, you should check out the expert training available, and make sure that you bring your team up to speed with current and future health and safety regulations in this area of the law. It can be a benefit even where the simplest machinery is concerned, so check it out further and see how it can help you.