Digitalising Lockout-Tagout procedures
Not everyone is immediately in favour of implementing a Lockout-Tagout procedure, but the use of a Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) procedure is the best way to comply with the European regulations on de-energised and safe work environments. The implementation of Lockout-Tagout procedures is sometimes wrongly seen as cumbersome, inconvenient and slowing down production. But using LOTO to control and isolate hazardous energy sources is actually crucial to creating a safe working environment.
In addition to the general LOTO rules, there are Lockout-Tagout procedures specific to machines and facilities. Each machine has its own unique power source, some machines are plugged into a universal outlet and others have their own specific power source. Still, others have multiple power sources and even backup batteries. It is not enough to put “isolate and shut off all power” in a LOTO procedure. Instead, a good Lockout-Tagout program should specify exactly what type of power supply the machine uses, where it is located, how it should be properly locked and how and where it should be tagged to keep everyone safe. Clear and simple LOTO procedures save lives. A well-developed LOTO procedure ensures that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.
Many companies provide LOTO training to their employees by introducing them to certain applications and configurations of equipment and related documentation. Once employees are trained, it is their responsibility to carry out Lockout-Tagout procedures correctly. By digitising this programme with the right digital solution, the LOTO program becomes a focused workflow with two-way communication, guiding employees through the correct steps every time.
Setting up and implementing a successful Lockout-Tagout program can be complicated. Developing the most effective and safest procedures requires not only an assessment of current safety procedures (work permits) but also an assessment of operator skills and an analysis of the installation.
Incorrect Lockout-Tagout procedures can lead to lost production, dangerous situations and in some cases, serious injury. Good Lockout-Tagout procedures comply with regulations and guidelines and are implemented at all levels of the organisation and among all employees. It is therefore not just a policy document.
Machine-specific LOTO procedures and work instructions must contain at least the following information:
- The hazardous energy present and the type of energy isolation or deactivation required.
- Where the locks are needed and how they should be installed.
- Steps to install and remove all locks.
- How to check the insulation.
- How to inform others in the area about the lockout and reactivation.
Lockout-Tagout procedures may include images. Well-designed and machine-specific Lockout-Tagout procedures make it easier for employees to follow the process.
Digital Lockout-Tagout program
Regularly reviewing and updating all the different machine-specific Lockout-Tagout procedures, confined space access procedures, maintenance plans and other important documents takes a lot of time and effort. Therefore, the Lockout-Tagout software system for managing your LOTO programme, controlling and tracking LOTO activities is the ideal solution.
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