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Tag-out, lock-out hazardous energy sources

By David Gaffney | | June 26, 2003

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You're working on a piece of machinery when it suddenly begins to function on its own. How could that happen? Perhaps someone didn't properly follow lockout/tag-out procedures? Fortunately, you were not injured Ð this time Ð but you certainly could have been.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in 29 CFR 1910.147, requires controlling the hazardous energy of machines and equipment before they are serviced or maintained. The requirement is to prevent injury due to unexpected energizing or start up of the machines or equipment. This policy is also addressed by the Marine Corps in MCO P5100.8F and by MCLB in BO 5100.16.

For proper lockout, place a padlock on a disconnect switch, circuit breaker, valve handle or other energy isolating device while the energy isolating device is in the off or closed position. The placement of the lock should be such that the energy-isolating device can't be moved from the locked off or closed position.

In accordance with BO 5100.16, only locks with keys should be used for lockout of the energy-isolating device.

A lockout should never be made without an accompanying tag. Attach an appropriate written warning tag on the same energy-isolating device where the padlock is located. It is also important to remove any stored or residual energy in the machine or equipment. This can include mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, or thermal energy. Lockout/tag-out procedures are not complete until this potential energy is removed and the machine or equipment is restored to a neutral state.

Maintenance supervisors provide all necessary locks, keys, tags, and materials necessary for using the LOTO process. Never use these items for personal use or lend them to a co-worker; they're only for locking out hazardous energy sources and for use by the individual to whom they were assigned. Never use personal padlocks to lockout a piece of equipment. Your name or some other way of identifying who attached the lock or tag must be listed on the lock and tag.

The individual servicing the equipment or who is in charge of locking and tagging out the equipment is called an "authorized" employee. Only management appointed/trained employees can act as authorized employees.

In summary -

* Only an authorized employee may apply or remove his or her locks and tags.

* Never remove the lock or tag of another authorized employee.

*If working with outside contractors, learn their method of lockout/tag-out as well as your own organization's procedures.

Don't be the cause of a mishap and don't get hurt by someone else's mistake. Learn and follow LOTO procedures exactly as they are written.

The warning labels attached to the locks help mechanics know who locked out a particular switch or valve and when it was done.

David Burnett, heating, ventilation and air conditioning mechanic, attaches a warning label to a locked out steam valve in a Bldg. 3500 mechanical room Wednesday.

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