According to the latest statistics published by OSHA, Lockout Tagout (LOTO) violations rank 5th among the top 10 cited violations during FY 2014. The General Industry Standard (1910.147), related to the Control Hazardous Energy, aka LOTO, recorded 2,704 violations, roughly midway between the numbers from the previous years – 3,254 in 2013 and 1,572 in 2012. This rule reportedly covers millions of workers who, as a part of their daily jobs, are exposed to diverse energy sources of varying magnitudes.
Paying attention to critical areas as identified by OSHA can help counter the most common Lockout Tagout violations, including but not limited to:
- Accidental Energisation
- Energy Control and Protection
- Isolation of All Energy Sources
OSHA CALLS FOR MORE FOCUS ON:
Adequate Guards or Shields on Machinery
While Lockout Tagout primarily focuses on regulations for preventing accidental startup of equipment and machines under maintenance or repairs, Subpart O standards address safety requirements for people manning equipment and machinery during their normal or routine production operations. The appropriate machine-guarding process must be in place to conform to Subpart O standards. However, unexpected repairs or services taken up during the normal run should be in line with Lockout Tagout regulations – equipment stopped, de-energised, locked out, serviced, tested and cleared for use.
Energy Control Mechanisms
Detailed processes, training and periodic audits help keep a close tab on energy control programs in the workplace. These are especially applicable to technicians who undertake the maintenance, service or repair. Familiarity with multiple energy sources, their magnitude, the right type of lockout devices for each source and strength, dealing with stored energy and dissipation are just a few areas that need careful attention. Electrical lockout devices and kits available at www.lockoutsafety.com address most energy control and isolation needs.
Process for Effectively Handling Multiple Energy Sources/Equipment Components
Integrated machinery and automated production systems need more elaborate processes and comprehensive training that cover all types of energy sources driving each part or equipment in the system. An extensive range of lockout/tagout devices – including those from Brady, Master Lock and Lockout Safety featured at www.lockoutsafety.com – can help address diverse lockout needs.
Making effective use of group lockouts to handle the safety requirements in maintaining integrated production systems not only help simplify the process but also minimise the possibility of accidental energisation. The equipment, system or machinery will be de-energised and locked out by an authorised member of the group, who is responsible for coordinating the entire maintenance process. Other members add their personal lockout devices to the machine before proceeding on the job.
The equipment is cleared for use only when all members of the group have removed their lockout devices after completing the service or repair for which they are responsible. Group lockout boxes and composite and safety padlocks from www.lockoutsafety.com make the job safe and simple.
It is, however, important for each technician to make sure that equipment has been disconnected from all sources of power and residual energy dissipated before working on it.
IMPLEMENTING OSHA STANDARDS REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO
Formulate policies and procedures for Lock Out Tag Out, including special processes for high-end or complex systems.
Train employees on Lock Out Tag Out processes, imparting suitable instructions to authorised technicians, workers who man the equipment as well as non-technical staff on the premises.
Employers can check out the training program offered by www.lockoutsafety.com.
Audit the safety requirements and compliance, refine and update processes and re-train employees each time a new rule or a new equipment or change is introduced into an existing system.
OSHA standards are quite straightforward, but how exactly they are interpreted and implemented to make all the difference. Industry-specific variations, size of the machinery or production facility, type of machinery and labour (skilled/unskilled/literate) are bound to influence the effectiveness of implementing Lock Out Tag Out processes.