The lockout-tagout program is used by many companies who work with hazardous equipment and deal with potentially hazardous situations. The system works by having anyone who used the equipment announce the shut down of it by identifying its energy sources, isolating them, locking and tagging these energy sources, and finally proving that the isolation method used is effective. Here are some ways that the lockout-tagout program can improve the safety of electrical objects at your workplace:
The Equipment is Locked Out
With the lockout-tagout program, the first step after finishing work with dangerous electrical equipment is locking it all out. This is done by the last user and they will place locks over all of the power sources ensuring that no one is able to come and start up the machine. When you read this blog post, you will see how safety is dramatically increased when measures like this are taken and implanted by the company. In previous instances at workplaces, machines have been accidentally started by people walking by them, bumping into them, and flipping a switch. With the lockout method, this ensures that this is impossible as all power sources cannot be flipped until the padlocks have been unlocked. The lockout program helps improve electrical safety by ensuring that the equipment cannot be turned on either intentionally or accidentally.
Tags Help Inform Workers
Once all of the power sources have been identified, isolated, and locked, it is now the responsibility of the last user to tag them and write their name on it. These tags can help any future worker with this equipment as they are able to identify all important switches on the board quickly and see what has to be done to get the machine operational. While companies offer extensive training on the use of these materials, it can often be overwhelming, and the information can overload. The tagging system helps to ensure that if you are ever confused or unsure about what a power source does, you can easily find out and determine quickly. Tags will help a worker find out where the power sources are and determine how to use the machine in the correct way.
The Previous User Has the Keys
Once everything is locked and tagged, it is the responsibility of the previous user to hold onto all of the keys to the padlocks until it is time for someone else to use the equipment. If someone else is required to use it, they must approach them, explain to them why they need to use it, and then ask permission to get the keys necessary to open the padlocks. This creates accountability as the previous user has to deem that the new user will use it responsibly and correctly. If the machine requires multiple users, both of them will place padlocks on the power sources and therefore, two keys will be needed to operate the machine. This has been a tried tested and true safety method for years and with new methods being implemented every year to make it better, the lockout-tagout program will continue to be a staple for workplace safety.
Locks Are Tested
The final step towards ensuring the machine is properly locked out is testing each of the locks that have been placed on the power sources. Sometimes, people just throw locks down locks onto a product without determining if the locks are actually preventing use. Before an employee can write their name on the tag placed on the lock, they have to ensure that the lock is properly placed. This once again creates a system of accountability as the user can be held responsible if they do not take the necessary steps to lock the equipment but stick their names on the tags. This is a great method to hold both people accountable and ensure that safety protocols are always observed and followed within the workplace. By testing locks, the program helps to ensure that the equipment cannot be turned on after the previous user leaves.
The lockout-tagout program was created for the specific reason of building accountability between users while also ensuring that the equipment cannot be used by anyone walking by. By locking the equipment and tagging it, people are aware of where the power sources are and cannot turn them on till they have the equipment unlocked. As the previous user has the keys to the padlock, they must get their explicit permission to use it. Finally, all locks are tested to ensure they are functional and are placed properly. With all of these measures in place, the lockout-tagout program can definitely improve electrical safety within your company.