Let’s face it, we all moan and complain about health and safety regulations, but when all is said and done, they are there for good reason. Until relatively recently, people were often expected to work in situations and environments that were dangerous or detrimental to their health. Think of all those who worked where asbestos was present, or who inhaled coal dust, operated heavy machinery without the correct ear protectors or handling equipment, and the conditions they suffer from as a result.
These days, such situations are not only unacceptable but are also illegal, and it is the duty of every employer to ensure the workforce – in all areas of the building concerned – has a safe and acceptable environment to work in. This extends to areas such as kitchens, offices and receptions, as well as factories, shops and workshops.
Furthermore, it is not unusual to see people working on or around machinery or equipment that could be dangerous if misused, so proper training needs to be implemented. This is particularly so in the case of equipment that, if operated by the inexperienced or unauthorised, could cause injury or even fatalities.
This is where Lockout Tagout has its uses, so what is it, and why do you need to implement it?
Lockout Tagout Explained
Consider a large, possibly dangerous machine, which is operated by experience personnel. This machine needs to be shut down – perhaps at the end of a shift, or maybe for maintenance or regular servicing. The last thing you want is for an unauthorised person to start the machine unexpectedly, especially if there are people working on – or even within – the machine when it is shut down. The purpose of lockout tagout – or LOTO – is to prevent this from happening in any case.
LOTO is in fact mandated by law in many countries and in certain industries, but even if it is not, it is a simple yet very effective procedure that really should be part of your working routine. You can use it for heavy plant, for fork lifts, or for any type of industrial or commercial equipment or machinery that must only ever be operated by persons who are fully trained, qualified and experienced. It is not expensive, and is simple to achieve – turn to Powerpoint Engineering for details.
About LOTO Training
You will need to ensure that among those who operate equipment requiring the lockout tagout process, there are some who are trained in performing the routine that is needed to enable it. This means putting them through one of the many training courses, which can be carried out either on site, or at a training centre.
The team will learn the procedure involved, which goes as follows:
- Announce shutdown of equipment
- Identify any energy sources (power points, air pressure systems etc_
- Isolate energy sources
- Lock and tag energy sources
- Prove effective isolation
The point that needs explanation there is the one about locking and tagging, which is the basic premise of LOTO.
This is done by way of special tags; one is applied to the power source, and a lock is put through it – or, in some cases, more than one lock – with the operator responsible putting all their information on the tag, and keeping the key.
That sole operator is then the only person permitted to restart the machine under any circumstances.
Your chosen lockout tagout employees will learn all about the procedure, why it is important, and how to correctly perform the lockout, so why not investigate training courses now, and see how you can bring your workforce up to date with important aspects of the LOTO procedure.