Powered industrial equipment and machinery can present significant danger for workers during operation and also when not in operation. A safety hazard exists as long as energy sources, such as electricity, gas, pressurised water, steam, heat and compressed air remain connected to the machine when it is not in operation. As many as 10 percent of all workplace injuries reported to OSHA each year relate to accidents resulting from failure to stop equipment, disconnect them from their power source, dissipate residual energy, or clear workspaces before restarting powered equipment.
Lockout-tagout are devices and procedures that are meant to ensure that machinery and powered equipment are effectively isolated from their energy sources or from potential uncontrolled energy sources when not in operation. Installing lockout tagout stations is a requirement by OSHA for enhancing workplace safety by temporarily disabling machinery during maintenance or when not in operation. Adopting a lockout/tagout program in your organisation will institute additional precautionary measures necessary for enhancing the safety of workers handling dangerous machinery.
Lockout Tagout Stations for Industrial Safety
Lockout-tagout safety equipment and procedures encompass measures and devices that are aimed at alerting, tracking, and effectively disabling industrial machinery and equipment that operates on potentially hazardous sources of energy. Lockout tagout stations are energy isolation devices or kits such as switches and blind flange covers, circuit breakers, fasteners for manually operated valves and such devices that are used to ensure that energy sources are properly shut off when machinery is not in operation. Lockout tagout stations are put in place at the sources supplying power to machinery and equipment to ensure that such hazardous energy does not accidentally or unintentionally flow to the machinery or equipment causing injury. Lockout tagout stations or devices also include tags that are fastened onto energy sources to alert others within the workplace that the equipment has been temporarily disabled and is meant to remain that way.
OSHA Requirements for Lockout Tagout
OSHA requires that industrial organisations install lockout/tagout stations to ensure that dangerous machines and equipment are properly shut down to prevent injury when there is temporary failure in the machines or power supply, or when it is necessary to conduct maintenance on the equipment. Installing lockout tagout stations is a regulatory requirement for safety in compliance with the standards set by OSHA for controlling hazardous energy that could accidentally cause work-related injury. The regulation applies to all sources and forms of energy including but not limited to chemical, electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and thermal energy that are applied in industrial operations to power machines and equipment. Where the standard is applicable, lockout tagout stations must be applied at sources of power and their control devices when machinery is meant to remain switched off. An authorised member of staff must also be present to verify that the energy has effectively been isolated and that the lockout tagout device has been installed correctly.
Lockout tagout stations enhance worker and workplace safety by minimising the risk of exposure to injury in the event that machines are accidentally powered on during routine maintenance. Lockout tagout stations at power sources also minimise the risk of injury in the event that residual energy that remains pent up in switched off machinery is accidentally released in the form of blasts or electrical arc flashes that can cause serious injury.
Installing lockout tagout stations in your industry will minimise your exposure to litigation in the event that your workers within your premises are injured. In some states, organisations that comply fully with OSHA requirements for lockout tagout and effectively minimise the occurrence of accidents may receive benefits in the form of tax breaks and discounts on worker compensation. Making safety a priority is also essential for industrial organisations for inspiring the confidence of workers concerning their safety while on the shop floor and building their trust concerning the commitment of the organisation to ensuring workplace safety.