Electrical, mechanical and chemical energy; high and low temperatures; high pressure; mechanical pinch points; even gravity and wind are some of the types of energy that challenge workers safety when doing their jobs. Basically any type of energy source can be dangerous to workers if not isolated and controlled properly. During systems or equipment maintenance, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death.
Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) is needed for a great percentage of all work to ensure the safety of those who may be exposed to hazardous energy, but many US industries still struggle with proper LOTO performance. Even after decades of regulatory requirements, Hazardous Energy Control or Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) is number 5 of the 10 most frequent OSHA citations.
Achieving zero energy. Proper LOTO procedures are critical to achieve and maintain a Zero Energy State. This begins by isolating and de-energizing potential energy sources called points of isolation. These points of isolation are placed in positions to de-energize the equipment or system by using a written procedure that instructs how to isolate, drain, vent, discharge electrical, ground conductors, or otherwise reach a Zero Energy State.
LOTO for safety. Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) is used to protect employees from hazardous energy. After attaining a Zero Energy State with the written isolation procedure and before maintenance or repair begins locks must be applied to each point of isolation along with a “Do Not Operate” tag. On simple systems, the worker places their personal lock on the point(s) of isolation and maintains control of the key for their personal lock(s) to ensure that only he or she can remove the lock(s). Their lock and the tag ensure all personnel are aware the position of the point of isolation is not to be altered. Their personal lock prevents accidental re-energizing or startup of the equipment while the work is being performed without their consent and removal of their personal lock.
Group LOTO. Service, repair and maintenance performed by a group are often more complex than those performed by an individual. As a result, group LOTO requires more coordination and communication. As before, the system is shutdown using an approved written procedure that ensures all energy sources are isolated and de-energized. Locks are applied to the points of isolation, but with Group LOTO the keys to the locks on the points of isolation are placed inside of a lockbox similar to the one in the photo. To ensure each worker has personal control, each worker places their personal lock on the Group Lockbox and their personal lock prevents anyone from removing the locks on the points of isolation without their consent. This is a simplified example of how a Group LOTO system is used to prevent re-energizing or startup of equipment under repair or maintenance. Personal locks and Group LOTO boxes are an excellent method to protect workers by ensuring that the hazardous energy is controlled by each worker.
A worker must have a Personal Loto device to protect himself/herself which only he/she place and remove. This safety essential statement is a primary rule for LOTO. You can only be safe working on equipment if you have personal control of the energy sources with a Personal LOTO Device. In some cases, workers use a tagging system instead of locks. While locks are always preferred, workers can work with a tagging system if it meets the correct requirements and the procedure is as stringent as if locks were used. One of those requirements is that each worker must have a personal LOTO device, which can be lock, a tag or another identifier that prevents change of any of the points of isolation without the worker’s consent by removing the Personal LOTO Device.
Attention — proper training required. Workers should use LOTO only if they’ve undergone the proper training and understand the specific hazards of the system they’re working on. A worker should always have a questioning attitude, ensuring that the task at hand is fully understood, as well as the points at which the worker needs to stop and seek clarification.
Make Hazardous Energy safety personal. Working together, companies and employees can take steps to reduce incidents related to hazardous energy throughout the company and keep all employees safe.Have an Inquiry for Siemens about this article? Click Here >>