Lockout tagout is an essential part of electrical safety and refers to the specific practices that safeguard employees from sudden and unexpected start-up of machinery; this re-energisation could be dangerous for people within proximity of the machine. Lockout tagout particularly applies within any workplace with industrial machinery and should be utilised alongside other safety regulations such as wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Lockout tagout particularly applies within any workplace with industrial machinery and should be utilised alongside other safety regulations”

For personal safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires a formal lockout/tagout programme to be in place to ensure that employees are working in a safe environment. An effective lockout tagout routine should take place every time machinery requires maintenance or cleaning, and is implemented using these eight steps:

  1. Detail procedures for equipment

Ensure that you have determined the correct procedure for shutting down and restarting the equipment/machinery. Prepare the equipment for shutdown and highlight any potential hazards which may occur. Notify all employees that a lockout procedure is taking place how long it will affect them for.

  • Shut down the equipment properly

Explain and write down the shutdown instructions in detail to reduce the risk of damage to equipment and keep everyone safe. Make sure the shutdown instructions are in the correct sequence and are clearly written for other workers to see. Adhering to manufacturers shutdown instructions will ensure the equipment is safely shut off.

  • Equipment isolation

Ensure that equipment isolations points are identified, labelled and disconnected from all primary and secondary power supplies. Be sure to isolate all energy sources including water, steam, electricity and gas. Identify the process that will relieve any remaining pressure or energy in the machine if required.

  • Apply lockout devices

Apply lockout devices to all energy isolation devices and make sure they are tagged according to your company’s safe working procedures. Use the appropriate lockout device along with a tagout device – combination padlocks from Reece Safety can be used on the energy control as a secure lockout device.

  • Energy control

Inspect the system thoroughly to ensure all moving parts have stopped and take steps to guard against residual energy. Releasing tension in springs, bracing parts which could fall and blocking moving parts in hydraulic systems are all examples of how to control stored energy at this stage.

  • Verify the lockout (tryout)

Once you have disconnected primary and secondary sources of energy, attempt to start the equipment to verify that the lockout has been successful. Inspect the system to ensure it does not re-start. If the lockout has been successful, return all switches to their off positions.

  • Conduct required work

At this stage you can complete the required maintenance or cleaning work on the equipment/machinery safely. Ensure to stay alert to any potential hazards or areas of equipment which could re-start.

  • Reactivate

Once the work has been complete the final stage of lockout tagout can take place, whereby the equipment is restarted.  Only the responsible person who applied the lockout device in the first instance can remove it, to ensure safety and accidental re-energisation does not occur. Once the final lockout device has been removed, the equipment can be re-energised and started up again according to manufacturers instructions.