An effective LOTO program is possible if certain criteria are met. Missing just one step of OSHA’s LOTO program could place employees in real danger risking either severe bodily harm or even death. Just imagine working on a piece of hazardous equipment and someone unknowingly starts the equipment while you are directly under the point of operation, the results could be catastrophic. In order to stop the potential for mistakes such as the one described, an effective LOTO program should be in place. First and foremost, OSHA provides a list of the detailed steps needed to ensure the proper LOTO procedures of hazardous equipment. However, there are some other items that should be taken into consideration. Let’s review them here.
There are three main positions of employees during a LOTO situation.
Authorized Employees – Authorized employees are the specially trained employees that are capable of repairing, servicing, and maintaining the hazardous equipment. These employees have been trained on the safety procedures of specific equipment and understand the operating mechanisms as well as the risks for danger.
Affected Employees – These are the employees who operate the equipment. However, affected employees do not provide any servicing to the equipment.
Any Other Employees – Any employees classified as “other employees” are people who do not operate or service the equipment but do work in the general vicinity of the equipment being serviced. These employees should be made aware of the energy hazards and procedures of the LOTO program.
When LOTO is Needed
When equipment is capable of storing hazardous energy an effective LOTO program must be implemented for safety. There are many different types of equipment that would require the use of locks during a LOTO situation. For instance, any piece of equipment that operates from energy sources such as electrical, thermal, mechanical, chemical, or from any other dangerous energy source such as pressurized liquids or gas must utilize a LOTO program when undergoing servicing. Common types of machinery that feature the use of hazardous energy include power saws, pumps, conveyers, presses, and production equipment among a variety of other machinery.
OSHA estimates the Lockout/Tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries annually. This FREE guide provides a 5-step plan for Lockout/Tagout compliance, as well as other information regarding LOTO practices.
Just any old lock will not do when it comes to the seriousness of an effective LOTO program. There are quite a few things to take into consideration when choosing acceptable LOTO lock devices. For example, all LOTO locks should be durable. Many different work environments pose different working atmospheres; an underwater work environment is going to be substantially different than an industrial factory environment. Any locks used must be capable of withstanding the conditions of the environment they are being used in. Locks must also be easily seen and recognized. To ensure this, locks must be standardized by shape, size, and color and substantial enough that they don’t just break off or are able to be easily removed.
LOTO programs can be effective if the effort and dedication to safety is a priority. OHSA specifically states the steps necessary to attain compliance with a LOTO program and it is up the employer to implement the rules and guidelines to make it happen. Don’t become another statistic; ensure your LOTO safety plans and procedures today.
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