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The importance of lockout tagout in workplace safety.

The importance of lockout tagout in workplace safety.

Lockout, tagout is used to refer to a safety procedure in which dangerous equipment or machinery is shut down completely and properly to ensure that it isn’t started up again during servicing or maintenance and repair work. The kind of hazardous energy we refer to in lockout tagout are energy sources ranging from electrical, mechanical, thermal, chemical, hydraulic energy and even neutralizing extreme temperatures. The unexpected start up and release of stored energy during maintenance of these machinery could be very ghastly and fatal. 

The terms lockout and tagout are used simultaneously. They are not interchangeable. “Lockout” is used when an energy source is isolated from the machinery that uses it. This employs the use of a variety of lockout padlocks and devices. “Tagout” refers to the process of attaching a label or tag to the machinery or energy source after lockout. This gives workers the information that the system poses a danger. Some examples of tags used are:

  •     DANGER or WARNING.
  •     Timing.
  •     Specific instructions i.e Do not operate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration developed a standard for lockout tagout to protect workers who were at risk while maintaining workplace equipment.

The importance of lockout tagout in workplace safety.

The LOTO program is one of the best known and important safety practices in the workplace. Ignoring lockout tagout procedures is a clear violation of The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety guidelines. There are also many other importance of LOTO.

  1. Keeping workers safe: Lockout tagout keeps workers safe while carrying out an activity in the workplace. From authorized personnel to affected persons, the lockout tagout procedure ensures workers do not potentially harm themselves while around hazardous energy sources. Heavy machinery is critical in industry but these machines are very dangerous to those working on and around them. The lockout/tagout safety procedure helps to minimize the incident of injury to ensure safety.

  2. Ensuring Safety Compliance: LOTO was passed into law in 1989. It is one of the best known and important safety practices in the workplace. If a workplace is discovered to be lacking in this area, it would lead to a significant fine. This could range from a fine to suspension of the company’s activities for a significant period of time.

  3. Understanding the hazards: Tagout helps workers understand the hazards of dangerous machinery they might come across while working. Simply turning off the energy source or machinery is not enough. Machinery could be turned back on and stored energy released thereby harming a worker. Tagout gives instructions in clear terms.

  4. Prevents property damage: Whenever an accident involves heavy machinery, the major concern is the safety of the people working in the area. However, these accidents could also cause damage to the machinery itself which could be very expensive to replace or repair. With lockout tagout, lives are saved and repair/maintenance costs are reduced.

Lockout Tagout Adherence.

LOTO procedures must adhere to the following fundamental rules:

  •     Workplaces must develop a simple standardized LOTO program that all employees will be trained to follow.
  •     Workplaces should make use of locks and signs to prevent access to heavy machinery and activation of hazardous energy sources.
  •     All workplaces must ensure that all old and new machinery can be locked out before acquiring.
  •     Implement guidelines for who is allowed to operate and lockout heavy machinery. Locks and tags should only be removed by the person who applied it.
  •     Employ a means of tracking every instance of a lock/tag after it has been applied or removed from a machine.
  •     Workplaces should ensure yearly inspection of LOTO procedures in order to stay up to date with CCOHS requirements. This also helps ensure that machines remain safe to operate throughout the course of use.

Lockout tagout procedures form a part of a larger collection of essential safety procedures that involve the control of hazardous energy. As your workplace grows and acquires more assets, you should continually modify, review and improve safety procedure programs.

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