According to OSHA’s top ten most cited safety violations in 2020, the most frequently cited electrical violation was the inability to control hazardous energy. In the industrial world, controlling hazardous energy is bundled together with the use of a Lockout Tagout program. Due to the safety implications that electricians and other workers face in electrified environments, OSHA requires the facility to implement a sufficient Lockout Tagout program to protect those workers from harm. The standard can be found in 29 CFR 1910.147.
The thousands of violations that pertain to Lockout Tagout means that there could have been thousands of injuries and instances of fatalities in electrical environments. Luckily Lockout Tagout is easy to implement. The strategy involves placing locks on machines after they have been properly shut off to protect those who are performing routine maintenance on the equipment. Tags are attached to those locks to alert other employees that one of their co-workers is currently working. Only the employee that is providing the maintenance has the key to unlock the machine and restore power.
There are six steps to correctly performing a LOTO procedure, they are as follows:
- Prepare the equipment for shutdown. This is done usually by the machine operators because there is often a set sequence of procedures that must be followed.
- Actual shutdown must take place after the first step.
- Disconnect the power from all power sources that feed the equipment.
- Lock out the power by placing a physical lock on all power sources to the machine and then add a tag to alert other employees that maintenance is taking place.
- Secure the equipment by releasing any stored energy and then secure any parts that need to be away from the work area.
- Verify that it has been de-energized completely.
Those who are tasked with providing machine maintenance are able to take safety into their own hands with the help of a Lockout Tagout program. It has been proven that using LOTO is extremely effective in preventing accidents associated with these types of dangerous environments. Not following the above steps or not having a LOTO procedure at all not only violates OSHA regulations, but it also puts employees in a high-risk environment that can ultimately lead to death or serious injuries. Overall, LOTO procedures only benefit the companies that use them.
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