There are several risks in factories and other industrial facilities that can lead to various job injuries, ranging from minor to disabling to lethal in the end. Non-compliance with Lockout/Tagout protocols is a significant factor in many of these accidents.
In the workplace, Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is a set of processes or a system that can help ensure safety and reduce injuries. For example, prior to beginning maintenance work in an industry, following the LOTO procedures would ensure that potentially harmful devices and equipment have been properly shut down and turned off. The following are some of the reasons for implementing LOTO procedures.
Enhancement of Device Knowledge
We assume that employees will know how to use LOTO devices, but safety should never be taken for granted. Everyone should undergo training on using the tags and locks to ensure they are being used correctly to attach parts of equipment and machinery and the mistakes that can occur. Employees are guaranteed to safely use machinery when you have the LOTO procedures in place.
Performing Routine Inspections and Tests
Since the goal of LOTO is to reduce the risks associated with hazardous energy, it’s essential to understand how the equipment works. It’s a team effort that allows everyone to assess any potential equipment issues while running through a training session. The safety procedures would allow people to be aware of the issues that they may encounter when working with machinery, so training can be an excellent opportunity to troubleshoot your technology using the LOTO procedure.
Demonstrating a LOTO procedure forces an employee to pause and pay attention to what they are doing. As long as other people are watching and authorized employees are present, it may be easier to identify problems.
An Improved Way to Identify Problems
More people will be able to tell if something is wrong if they’ve been trained on Lockout/Tagout practices. Weaknesses in a team can be found at any level, even if it’s at the top. Because authorized employees will only use LOTO procedures, training may be the only opportunity for affected workers to become familiar with the protocols being used for their benefit.
It is possible to improve the effectiveness of safety meetings by increasing the number of employees who are familiar with the safety expectations of their peers and superiors.
Create A Less Intimidating Process
Nothing is simple if you’ve never done it before. Training simplifies procedures by removing their mysticism. Questioning and making mistakes are allowed if they don’t harm anyone or cause a major catastrophe. But in addition to making those who use LOTO procedures more comfortable, it can also put supervisors at ease when it comes to inspections and safety in general. If training has not been done correctly, everyone may be hesitant or anxious about the processes.
Refinement of The Safety Plan
Everybody becomes more aware of the importance of safety when they participate in safety training. You may be inadvertently violating an OSHA requirement while training with LOTO procedures. Simulating a practice LOTO inspection can also be used as a general safety check-up. Practical experience serves as an excellent reminder of safety expectations.
Moreover, when crew members use LOTO devices or procedures, you can use training to find out what kinds of problems they’re having. Instead of replacing lockout equipment every time a key breaks off in the lock, you can devise procedures for when existing lockout equipment fails.
Steps of Implementing a LOTO Program
There’re several reasons for the need to have a safety program for your employees. The following are steps that would guide you in implementing a LOTO program.
Write down the safety policy
One of the crucial steps is putting down the policy that you want your employees to follow. Make sure to include:
- The purpose of the program
- The scope
- Well explained terms such as lockout device and affected employees
- Detailed LOTO procedures
Purchase the necessary hardware to use LOTO
Lockout devices can be required for specific machines. Your LOTO policy should specify which machines need to be locked down for maintenance, as well as the number and type of lockout devices that must be available.
You should try to standardize as much as possible
Scaling it across multiple machines and locations is much easier. Workers are more likely to adhere to the same procedure in place, which speeds up the regular audits.
Provide lockout/Tagout training as needed
As part of the effort to ensure that the program is adhered to, people are given the necessary skills to implement the theory. They should be trained to the appropriate level depending on their involvement in the process.
Review and update procedures regularly
OSHA usually recommends that organizations audit their LOTO procedures yearly. Don’t forget to perform audits and updates after implementing LOTO.
Implementing lockout/Tagout procedures is a way of assuring the safety of workers, mainly from hazardous energy sources. If you don’t follow the LOTO standards, you’ll be fined, and your employees could also get hurt or worse. You can improve workplace safety by maximizing the use of tools such as Lockout and Tagout devices and available software.