LOCKOUT…don’t get TAGGED out.

By: Aaron Wissen

Lockout/Tagout simply refers to the series of procedures or specific practices designed to safeguard employees from unexpected startup of the equipment or the release of residual/stored energy within the device.

Controlling hazardous energy sources is vitally important for those responsible for servicing or maintaining machines or equipment. It should be obvious that certain industrial equipment can be dangerous when used, but it can also present hazards when not in operation. Serious physical harm or death could occur if the hazardous energy is not properly controlled. As long as energy sources such as electricity, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, chemical, thermal, etc. are attached to a piece of equipment or a machine a potential hazard exists.

When developing a lockout/tagout program, it is critical to be as specific as possible, because vague language could lead to a potentially dangerous situation. The primary aspect should focus on equipment isolating instructions. Spell out exactly what to do for shutting down and restarting the equipment. Involve the operators and craftsmen as well since they will have to most knowledge of the equipment’s features.

Once all proper procedures have been determined, all individuals need to be trained, made aware of the hazards and the steps that have been taken to protect them. An effective lockout/tagout program will have a set of instructions that will commonly include:

  • Preparation for Lockout/Tagout
  • Lockout/Tagout Sequence
  • Lockout/Tagout Authorized Release Sequence

Conduct periodic audits of the program from time to time to ensure that the procedures up-to-date, as your program/procedures need to reflect any changes to the system. A well visualized and monitored lockout/tagout program will help keep both the employees safe and ensure proper shutdowns and restarts that will protect the equipment.

Want to read more about Lockout/Tagout? Click here!