Just Turn It Off-Lock It Out
Any powered equipment is potentially dangerous-even if it's
supposed to be shut down! Many needless accidents occur when
somebody turns on a machine that other employees are repairing.
"I didn't know anyone was working on it" is the usual alibi
in accident investigations.
Accidents occurring under these circumstances
are not only needless but serious. They result not in small
cuts or scratches, but most often cause amputations, serious
fractures, and death. Any energy source-electrical, mechanical,
pneumatic, hydraulic, or gas-can be deadly if not controlled.
There is one sure way to prevent such accidents
from happening to you and that is to make certain that power
cannot possibly reach machinery while you are adjusting or
repairing it. How is this accomplished? By locking out and
tagging power at its source. These procedures are so important
that there are federal safety regulations covering them.
Locking out means placing a lock on a device that
prevents the release of energy, such as an electric circuit
breaker, a disconnect switch, a line valve, a block, and others.
Tagout means attaching a tag on a switch or other
shutoff device that warns others not to start up the equipment.
Tagout may only be used together with lockout, unless locking
out the equipment is impossible.
Sounds easy? It is, if procedures are followed
correctly. Here is a general lockout procedure that can be
adapted to your job.
. Turn off the equipment at the control panel
. Turn off or pull the main disconnect
. Attach your safety lock at the main switch
. Try to restart the equipment at the control
. Check the machine for possible residual
pressures, particularly for hydraulic systems
. Complete your servicing work
. Replace all guards on the machinery
. Remove your safety lock and adapter
. Let others know that the equipment is back
No lockout system will be effective if it is undertaken
in a hit-or-miss fashion. Here are some common mistakes in
lockouts. See how many you've been guilty of:
Mistake 1: "This job will only take a
few minutes. I don't need to use a lock-I'll just shut it
Mistake 2: Your co-worker pulls the switch
and correctly locks it out. Then you place your lock through
his lock. When he finishes up first, he removes his lock
and leaves yours lying on the ground near the switch. Now
you have no protection. Always use a multiple lockout when
more than one person is servicing the equipment.
Mistake 3: You're afraid you're going
to lose the key, so you leave it in the lock. Again, this
does not protect you and can be dangerous.
Mistake 4: "Joe, could you take my lock
and shut off the machinery and lock it out while I get my
tools together?" Don't depend on the other guy! Do the shutoff
and lockout yourself.
Mistake 5: You locked out the control
circuit and thought that was good enough. Wrong! The main
disconnect or switch must be locked out too. Even one drop
of water or a few particles of dust can cause a machine to
operate without anyone pressing any start buttons.
Mistake 6: Everything is correctly locked
out and you're ready to go to work. You've only got an hour
to finish the job. Stop! Before you do anything, take a
few moments to test the controls to make sure they are definitely
As you can see, it is up to you, the employee,
to perform a proper lockout. Ask to see your company's written
lockout procedures for the equipment for which you are responsible.
Make sure you have received training and understand exactly
what to do. Your life may depend on it!