Lockout tagout (LOTO) is an important safety procedure which helps to prevent workplace accidents. By protecting workers from the hazards of machinery and equipment during down time or maintenance, LOTO is used to isolate a device and prevent accidents, a crucial health and safety measure. In this article, we discuss the ways in which LOTO can prevent workplace injuries, using some real-life examples to demonstrate.
In workplaces which use heavy-duty machinery, the risk of accident or injury to workers poses a serious threat if the machinery is able to unexpectedly startup during maintenance work. LOTO means a machine can be safely shut off before employees or servicing personnel get close. For example, if a worker is servicing machinery with a conveyor belt without LOTO, there is the potential for them to get trapped between moving parts if a button or switch is accidentally knocked and the machine starts up.
Preventing fire related injury
Equipment such as soldering irons or welders can pose a risk if they are accidentally activated when not being used. If a welder is unaware that their tool has power, it could potentially cause a serious burn or even a fire, leading to widespread damage. Introducing LOTO procedures helps to ensure the equipment is used safely and securely, only turning it on when the right safety measures are in place.
Maintaining safety at height
For those such as window cleaners or construction workers who regularly work on elevated platforms or scaffolding, LOTO procedures are an absolute necessity to minimize the associated dangers. For example, if the platform control was accidentally knocked or incorrectly used, it could put the worker at height in danger of falling, so LOTO ensures that the platform is kept secure during use.
Preventing electrical incidents
By isolating a power source, electrical equipment cannot be accidentally turned on during maintenance work which helps to prevent the risk of electrical injury. Electricians practice the LOTO process to ensure they can work on electrical equipment or control panels without the risk of electrocution or burns, keeping them safe at work and ensuring health and safety measures are aligned with.
Protection from chemicals
In workplaces which handle hazardous chemicals, safety procedures are needed to ensure that the chemicals remain securely sealed to prevent any spillages or leaks. LOTO is used to secure pipes, valves and storage tanks containing dangerous substances when any maintenance work is being carried out, keeping workers protected against chemical exposure.
Confined space safety
Workers who are required to enter small spaces, such as pipelines or tanks, are exposed to various risks due to the nature of the confined environments. LOTO can help to make sure that the entrance to the space is kept open, no liquid is able to flow through the space, or no unauthorized personnel are able to enter. Without implementing sufficient LOTO procedures, the safety of the workers is seriously compromised, potentially even putting them in life threatening situations.
- When should lockout/tagout be used?
- How does lockout/tagout improve safety?
- Who is responsible for the lockout/tagout program?
- What is a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program?
- What are machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures?
- Why is lockout/tagout important?
- What types of hazardous energy can a lockout/tagout program control?
- Is PPE required for lockout/tagout?
- Where should lockout/tagout tags be placed?