Lockout tagout procedures protect maintenance employees from injuries that could occur if machines or equipment start up or release stored energy while being serviced. For this reason, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation CFR 1910.147 requires most businesses to develop written lockout/tagout procedures specific to each machine and piece of equipment. While the steps within each LOTO standard operating procedure may differ, each one must follow a standard form and include specific, OSHA-mandated information.
Lockout Versus Tagout
OSHA standards require using both lockout and tagout procedures whenever possible. Lockout procedures involve turning machines or equipment off and using a lockable energy-isolation device, such as a manually operated circuit breaker or disconnect switch, to make sure an energy source remains off until maintenance is complete. Tagout procedures are a second-line defense in most cases, which involves placing an OSHA-approved tag on a lockout device indicating the machine or equipment must remain under lockout until the person named on the tag completes maintenance and releases the lockout. The only time it’s permissible to use only a tag is when an energy-isolation device isn’t lockable.
Standard Lockout Work Plan
A standard lockout form used for each machine or piece of equipment includes four main sections. The top section identifies the equipment, its location, the scope of the work and the contact person. The second section indicates what types of energy, such as steam, electricity, moving parts or compressed air, that the lockout tagout controls. The third section includes a step-by-step standard operating procedures checklist that maintenance personnel must follow to comply with OSHA lockout standards. The last section consists of a chart used to record and maintain a complete lockout history.
Lockout/Tagout Checklist SOPs
OSHA has specific requirements for the sequence that lockout checklist actions must follow. The lockout sequence consists of six steps: notification, power-down, energy-source isolation, lockout, lockout verification and tagout. Energy restoration steps include notifying affected employees that servicing is complete, verifying the area is clear, removing lockout/tagout devices and restoring the energy source. Maintenance personnel should mark the checklist after completing each step and keep the checklist to serve as compliance evidence during an OSHA inspection.
Exceptions and Special Conditions
Although OSHA SOP standards generally require the same employee to both apply and remove the lockout, they do allow an employee’s direct supervisor to remove a lockout in situations where this is not possible. However, in addition to following checklist items in the standard form, an SOP for a supervisor must include three additional checklist items. The supervisor must first verify the authorized employee is not in the area before removing the lockout. Afterwards, the supervisor must make reasonable efforts to inform the employee about the lockout removal and make certain the authorized employee has this information before resuming any remaining work at the site.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.