Lockout Tagout (LOTO)

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A lockout tagout (LOTO) plan is necessary when performing maintenance work such as repair, routine check-ups, and lubrication. Implementing LOTO prevents serious injury or death that can come from hazardous energy in the workplace.

What is Hazardous Energy?

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), hazardous energy can be chemical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment.

During repair and maintenance work, hazardous energy such as these can start or release unexpectedly and injure or harm workers and maintenance personnel. Injuries related to hazardous energy during maintenance work include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, or fracturing body parts. 

How Lockout Tagout Works

The lockout in LOTO means locking out the machine or equipment that your team will be performing maintenance or lubrication on. This aims to prevent anyone from turning the machine on or accessing any part of it while people are working on it. An example of a lockout device is a lock that only authorized personnel can access.

The tagout in LOTO, on the other hand, means using appropriate tags, warnings, and notifications that communicate to anyone that a machine is under maintenance or lubrication. Thus, these tags should prevent anyone from starting, accessing, or using the machine. An example of a tagout device would be signage that you attach to the machine under maintenance.

OSHA requires all businesses to implement LOTO procedures according to its standard. Aside from legally mandating its LOTO standards, OSHA ensures LOTO compliance by issuing fines and penalties for violations of said standards.

Essential Practices and Procedures in LOTO

The LOTO standard guidelines and procedures for every type of industry are available on the OSHA website. Included in the standard guidelines are the following:

  • Explanation of the purpose of a Lockout Tagout Plan, including its scope and applications.
  • Identification of the crucial part of employers in the LOTO Plan.
  • Instructions for employers regarding control procedures or use of control devices to isolate machines and equipment under maintenance or lubrication.
  • Identification of the responsibilities of workers or maintenance personnel in the LOTO Plan.
  • List of training requirements for employers and employees regarding the practices and procedures of a LOTO Plan.
  • Procedures on equipment that are new, overhauled, repositioned, or incapable of being locked out.
  • Employees’ rights to safe working conditions when maintaining or lubricating their employers’ assets.

LOTO Steps for Maintenance and Lubrication

The following are the basic steps to follow when implementing LOTO during the maintenance and lubrication of assets. Additional measures may be necessary depending on the specific machine or equipment.

  1. Announce that a Lockout Tagout procedure is about to begin. Ensure that you notify all employees.
  2. Prepare the following information before shutdown: all the types of hazardous energy related to the machine or equipment and the ways and devices required to control said energy.
  3. Execute shutdown according to protocol and schedule. Any changes in the schedule should be announced immediately.
  4. Ensure that all energy-controlling or energy-isolating devices are in place. Perform checks that these devices are working as intended.
  5. Install lockout tagout devices.
  6. Commence maintenance or lubrication.
  7. Perform tests periodically until the maintenance or lubrication service is finished. This ensures that the machine or equipment does not accumulate hazardous energy during servicing.
  8. Inspect the machine and its vicinity for spare parts, tools, or waste materials once the maintenance or lubrication is finished.
  9. Perform a check and inventory of the machine parts to make sure all are reconnected.
  10. Announce that the servicing is finished, checking that all employees and workers are accounted for and are in safe areas.
  11. Remove lockout tagout devices.
  12. Reconnect the machine or equipment to energy sources and inspect the connections.
  13. Restart the machine or equipment and check its working condition.
  14. Record details of the procedure performed for future reference.

Common Lockout Tagout Violations

For your LOTO procedure to be effective and compliant with OSHA guidelines, it helps to know the most common failures encountered when executing LOTO. OSHA listed the following as the most common LOTO violations.

  • Incomplete identification and isolation of all energy sources
  • Failure to follow shutdown protocol
  • Failure to re-connect to energy sources effectively
  • Ineffective draining of residual energy after shutdown
  • Incomplete or ineffective training of employees and employers on LOTO procedures
  • Generalized LOTO procedures that do not account for additional equipment-specific procedures
  • A LOTO program is not effective or unavailable

Software for Effective LOTO

Using software to manage your maintenance or lubrication procedure can be valuable in ensuring the effective implementation of your LOTO Program. For example, with Redlist’s Lubrication Management or CMMS  (Computerized Maintenance Management System) Software, you can execute, inspect, and record information on your LOTO program accurately and in real-time. Redlist software can help you better protect your employees’ safety and secure your compliance with standard LOTO guidelines. Contact us for a demo today!

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