The main goal for a lockout/tagout (LOTO) program is to improve the safety of employees who work on potentially dangerous machines. Specifically, it will prevent a machine from being powered up while workers are performing maintenance in a potentially hazardous area. The concepts behind the LOTO program are quite simple, but they have been proven to be extremely effective at minimizing some of the most severe types of workplace accidents and injuries.
Ensure Power is Not Restored
When someone is working in or around heavily machinery that could cause them harm, it is not enough to simply shut it off. A machine that is turned off can easily be turned back on by someone who doesn’t realize that there is someone working on it. In addition, if there is a power surge of some type, it could cause the machine to energize and cause serious danger for the employee.
When the LOTO program is followed, it is physically impossible to restore the power to the machine or to have a surge deliver power to it. This allows the workers to complete the tasks that they are responsible for without having to worry about the risk of a machine turning on while they are there.
Since only the person or people working on or around the machinery will have the ability to remove the lockout device from the power source, there is no way that this can happen unintentionally. This strategy was developed because it provides assurances that the person performing the work physically can’t still be in a hazardous area when they restore the power.
OSHA first began mandating lockout/tagout practices in 1989 under regulation CFR 1910.147. They estimate that hundreds of fatalities each year could have been prevented prior to this point of employers had made similar programs mandatory.
Since this regulation was put in place, many lives have been saved and even more accidents prevented. While a LOTO program can result in a job taking additional time, the improved safety shows that it is well worth the effort.
- What is a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program?
- What is a LOTO procedure?
- What are machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures?
- Where should lockout/tagout tags be placed?
- What are LOTO tags?
- When should lockout/tagout be used?