8 Steps to Ensure Proper Lockout Tagout

The term lockout tagout or LOTO is often used within a research or industry setting and refers to the safety practice of shutting off dangerous equipment that may emit hazardous energy and not allowing it to be turned on or put into use again until after it has been properly serviced or maintained by trained personnel. According to OSHA, hazardous energy sources include mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, chemical, pneumatic, or thermal energies. When machines are identified for LOTO, the start-up of these machines without proper servicing could result in a release of hazardous energy and cause injury to employees. In order to protect employees from injury, OHSA has outlined the proper safety guidelines for LOTO procedures, take a look at the below 8 steps to ensure a proper lockout tagout practice within your facility.

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1. Notify Employees of Needed Servicing

All employees should be notified regarding the shutdown of a machine or system for maintenance. Communication is crucial here, employees need to understand that equipment on LOTO is not to be used or operated until it has been serviced.

2. Servicing Employee Must Identify Energy

Once equipment has been put on LOTO, the authorized employee trained to service the equipment will need to identify the basic energy components and possible energy hazards. This employee will be responsible for identifying the type and magnitude of energy, and also understand the hazards of each type of energy so the employee can utilize the proper methods to control the specific type of energy.

3. Disable the Equipment

If the equipment is still in operation mode, the equipment must be shut down by using the normal stop method, whether it is to depress a button, close a valve or open a switch.

4. Deactivate and Isolate

Once the equipment has been shut-off, the equipment in LOTO should be isolated and separated from its energy source so the possibility of accidently restarting the equipment before servicing is reduced or eliminated.  

5. Lockout the Equipment with Tags

The equipment should be placed on lockout tagout using the proper tags and locks indicating that the equipment is not functional and should not be put into use.

6. Stored Residual Energy Must be Dissipated

Any stored residual energy must be relieved or dissipated to ensure that any sort of built up energy within the equipment is restrained. The unintended release of this stored energy could severely injure employees and needs to be treated as a serious step within the LOTO procedure. Stored energy may include energy in springs, capacitors, hydraulic systems, flywheels and even be in the form of air, gas, water pressure, or steam. Common methods used to release stored energy include blocking, repositioning, bleeding down, and grounding among other appropriate methods.

7. Verify Disconnection from Energy

After all the above steps have been taken and all residual energy has been emitted from the equipment, the equipment must be verified for full disconnection. Before verifying disconnection, the area should be clear of employees and the equipment must be in isolation. When this has been done, the authorized employee should verify that the equipment is indeed disconnected by attempting to turn on the equipment. If the equipment does not power on, it is properly prepared for service. However, it is very important to remember to return the equipment from the start-up or “on” mode back to the “off” mode once the disconnection of power has been verified.

8. Lockout Accomplished

Once all the above steps have been taken, the equipment in need of repair is deemed on full LOTO and is ready to be serviced.

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