Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) is a safety procedure used in various industries to ensure that dangerous machinery and equipment are properly shut down, de-energized, and isolated before maintenance, repairs, or servicing work is performed. The goal of LOTO is to prevent accidental startup of machines or equipment during maintenance activities, which could lead to serious injuries or fatalities.
The LOTO procedure typically involves the following steps:
Preparation: Identify the equipment that needs maintenance, repair, or servicing. Notify all relevant personnel about the upcoming LOTO procedure.
Equipment Shutdown: Turn off the machinery or equipment using its regular shutdown procedures.
Isolation: Isolate the equipment from its energy sources. This is usually done by using lockout devices, such as padlocks, to secure switches, valves, or other control mechanisms in the off or closed position.
Lockout: Each authorized person involved in the maintenance work places a personal lock on the lockout devices. This ensures that the equipment cannot be re-energized without the removal of all the locks.
Tagout: A tag is attached to the lockout devices to provide additional information about the maintenance work being performed, the personnel involved, and the expected duration of the lockout. Tags help prevent accidental removal of locks by providing clear communication.
Verification: Once the lockout and tagout procedures are in place, the equipment’s energy sources are tested to make sure they are truly isolated and cannot be activated. This step helps ensure the safety of the maintenance personnel.
Performing Maintenance: With the equipment properly locked out and tagged out, maintenance, repairs, or servicing can be performed safely.
Completion: Once the maintenance work is complete, the lockout and tagout devices are removed by the personnel who installed them. Equipment is then carefully tested to ensure proper functioning before it’s returned to service.
LOTO procedures are vital for preventing accidents and injuries in workplaces where machinery and equipment are involved. Proper training and adherence to LOTO protocols are crucial for the safety of maintenance personnel and anyone working in the vicinity of the equipment.
LOTO procedures are to be part of a written program, and all employees are to be trained in the proper procedures.