Lockout refers to a series of steps followed that will physically isolate hazardous energy from workers. Hazardous energy is defined in the CSA Z460-13 standards as “any electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, nuclear, thermal, gravitational, or other energy that can harm personnel.” Any energy that poses a hazard to workers while they work on or in the area of the hazard must be physically isolated through a series of steps to ensure the hazardous energy cannot harm a worker.
Lockout is generally accomplished with at least three pieces.
- A lock should be individually keyed so that no other worker may open that individual’s lock. Specialized lock programs chart key configurations so that you will never receive a duplicate for as long as your program exists that may lead to accidental lockout removal and re-energization of the system before all workers are clear of the hazards. Locks for lockout programs should never be purchased from retail chains as the key duplications can be as high as 1 in 20 locks.
- Tags are used by the authorized employee (the worker trained to perform a lockout) to communicate why the lockout is required, time of the lockout started, and the name of the authorized person who implemented the lockout. A tag is not just a piece of paper or card stock. Tags are required to have a minimum pull strength so they cannot be accidentally removed. Typically tags are made of a tear resistant plastic that is also recommended that they are water resistant to ensure that they are only removed when the lockout is complete.
- A lockout device is typically the last piece that is used. The device can be as simple as a hasp or more complicated like a cable, switch, or circuit breaker lockout. These devices provide the physical barrier from being able to re-energize the system that is secured in place by the lock.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) may seem like an obvious precaution to take prior to working on hazardous equipment, but unfortunately, the number of fatalities due to accidental contact with dangerous parts is still on the rise!
Lockout has been legislated by the government in all provinces, and is required in the following situations:
- Unsafe conditions
- When contact with moving parts is unavoidable (during repair or cleaning)
- Any other conditions as specified within the acts and regulations
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