The lockout/tagout (LOTO) program was developed to help protect workers who are performing maintenance on machinery from getting hurt due to the unintended startup of a machine. OSHA requires facilities to have safe de-energization practices and a LOTO program that is tailored specifically to their environment. In general, however, the steps taken will be quite similar.
Removing All Sources of Power
The first step in any lockout/tagout program is going to be to remove the power from a machine that is going to be worked on. This should be done either directly by the person performing the maintenance, or at least with them present. The involvement of the person doing the work will help to ensure they are certain that the power has been properly removed. During this step, it is important to remove all source of power including the main power supply and any backup options.
Locking Out the Power with Tags
Once the power has been removed, the person or people who are going to be working on the machinery will need to lock the power out. This means applying some type of device that physically prevents the machine from being plugged back in and turned on. If multiple people are working on the machine, then each person should have their own lock put in place.
This is done so that nobody can accidentally plug in the machine thinking that it is safe. As long as the maintenance person is working with or in the machine, it won’t be possible to power it up. Once they are done with the maintenance, each person will unlock their own lock and remove it so that power can be restored.
Limiting Who Can Restore Power
The main point of the lockout/tagout program is to physically limit who is able to restore power to a machine that is being worked on. When the LOTO program is followed properly, it will virtually eliminate any risk of people getting hurt because a machine is energized while they are still working in or around it.
- What is a LOTO procedure?
- What is the main goal for a LOTO program?
- Where should lockout/tagout tags be placed?
- What are LOTO tags?
- What are machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures?
- What other tools should be used in a lockout/tagout strategy?