Lockout/tagout (LOTO) are used to physically prevent systems from reengaging while someone is working on or in a machine. The system ensures that when power is physically removed from a machine it will be prevented from being restored by anyone other than the person who is performing the work. This has helped to reduce the number of accidents and injuries in the workplace over the past several decades. Understanding where these tags need to be placed is an essential part of this program.
Placed with the Locks
Lockout/tagout tags should always be placed with the locks that are used to prevent power from being restored. The locks can come in many different styles including padlocks, pin locks, and many others. While the lock is what will physically stop someone from restoring the power, the tag is going to be what lets those in the area know why the power was removed, and by whom. It is only when both the lock and the tag are used together that the system will work properly.
Breakers & Electrical Disconnects
Placing lockout/tagout tags and locks at breakers and electrical disconnects is important since this is often an area where the power is cut and restored. Breakers and disconnects are another safety feature that will cut power should it spike or have other issues. They are also easy places to cut the power when maintenance is being performed. When a breaker is flipped to cut the power, it should be locked in the ‘off’ position, so nobody switches it back on without realizing that it was turned off intentionally for safety reasons.
Many machines are plugged into a traditional outlet. When this is the case, the machine should be unplugged, and the plug should have a lock put on it. This lock can be applied directly to the prongs of the plug, or a box device can be placed over the prongs so that they can’t be plugged in. Having a tag placed on the plug will also quickly alert those who see it to the fact that it was removed from the outlet by someone who is going to be working on the machinery.
If a machine has any type of battery backup in place, that will also need a lock and tag applied. The lockout/tagout program demands that all sources of power are physically removed and locked out, and that includes battery backup systems. Depending on how the system is setup, the lock and tag could be applied to the battery bank, the plugs that bring the power from the battery to the machine, or on a backup breaker system.
Any other areas where electricity is supplied to a machine will need to have it removed and a lock & tag applied. Each machine can be different so it is important to know where all the power sources are located so they can all be disconnected and secured before anyone enters the machine to perform work.
- What is a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program?
- What are machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures?
- What is a LOTO procedure?
- What are LOTO tags?
- How does lockout/tagout improve safety?
- What other tools should be used in a lockout/tagout strategy?