A workplace that contains a lot of machinery and equipment can pose plenty of threats to personnel. And it’s not only during these machines’ operation but also when they are being serviced since a lot of them holds energy that can be harmful to humans if accidentally released. For this reason, companies need to employ necessary security protocols at all times.
This is where the safety procedure known as lockout-tagout comes into play. Done especially when machines are being serviced and therefore should not be used, the lockout phase starts with a lock that keeps the energy isolation device in a safe position to keep the machine from accidentally starting up. Tagout means a tag is attached to the machine and informs everyone that it must not be used until the tag remains there.
However, a lot of companies tend to overlook this security need, getting employees unnecessarily exposed to a harmful energy source that could cause severe or even fatal injuries. There are some steps to follow to make sure that safety is applied at all times. Some companies who have adopted an effective lockout-tagout process adopt it to fit their needs, taking into consideration the type of machinery and the risk it carries.
1. Identify the energy source
Above anything else, it would be best to determine where the energy source originates. There is usually the standard procedure of starting and stopping it, a basic that the company and designated operators need to be aware of.
2. Assign the appropriate locks
After identifying the origin of the energy source and briefing people on how to properly operate it, the next ideal thing will be to assign locks and tags to the controls of the source.
3. Release any stored energy
That’s the energy that may be residing in the internal parts of the machinery (i.e. springs, hydraulics, or capacitor banks).
4. Secure the perimeter
It would be best to make sure that it is in an isolated and secure area for proper containment, to prevent hazardous energy from getting accidentally released into the surroundings.
5. Perform regular maintenance
Equipment can bog down and malfunction at a certain point. This can be prevented or minimized with regular maintenance to keep the machines in tiptop condition.
These steps are pretty basic. For other supporting security protocols, it may be best for concerned staff to get proper training so that they will know how to start and shut down machinery. Training is a requirement, and the appropriate certification is needed to make sure that individuals who have taken it is indeed knowledgeable and skilled to handle the task.
Finally, standard protocols on lockout-tagout procedures need to be reviewed at least once a year. This is to ensure adequate employee protection and to prevent accidents that can lead to injury or even loss of life.