Is Your Lockout Program Short Circuiting?
You've written the procedures and done the training, but you just had another accident related to an employee's failure to lockout. What's going on? Here are some common issues that can cause your lockout/tagout program to go off track.
- "I trust him": You may have workers who aren't placing their own locks because they trust their co-worker to not do something that would endanger them. When you see this behavior, you need to impress upon workers that lockout/tagout has nothing to do with trust; no one intentionally starts machinery when someone is working on it.
Lockout/tagout is about protecting against human error--the kind of mistake that can be made regardless of whether those co-workers are trustworthy. Emphasize that each worker must take responsibility for his or her own safety, and it's not fair to their co-workers to foist that responsibility onto them.
- It takes too long: Especially in workplaces with a heavy emphasis on production and making quotas, you'll hear grumbling about how long lockout/tagout takes when it comes to things like clearing jams. That's usually because the pressure the worker feels from production requirements distorts his or her view of how much time lockout actually takes.
Several steps can alleviate this issue. First, find ways to prevent the equipment downtime in the first place--for example, fix problems causing shutdowns and jams. Second, time the worker doing the lockout to show him or her how little time is actually required. Finally, management must provide clear direction about the perceived conflict between production and safety.
- It can't be done if the machine is locked out: In some instances, a machine cannot be locked out in order for a particular action to be done. In those cases, extension tools should be provided to prevent the workers from placing themselves in harm's way, with procedures in place for safely accomplishing the task. However, you should ensure that the action really does require that the machine not be locked out and that employees are applying the procedures to that specific instance and not as a general rule.
- The locking is okay, but the blocking doesn't happen: Employers often put a great deal of emphasis on cutting off the electricity from a machine to prevent an inadvertent start. However, the lockout/tagout rules aren't only about electricity; they're about all types of energy.
Ensure that employees understand that they need to not just place locks but also to release stored energy and prevent the release of other types of potential energy prior to beginning work (such as capacitors, springs, elevated machine members, rotating flywheels, hydraulic systems, and air, gas, steam or water pressure).
Lockout/tagout is critical for safety
You want to make sure safety is the top priority in your workplace, but some areas of lockout/tagout are a little unclear to you. Don't look to general guides for what to do. Their authors don't face these issues in real life, day to day. But one group does--managers like yourself. And they've had their questions answered through BLR's renowned "Ask the Experts" service.
Now BLR has compiled those replies into a unique program in Q & A format, as an instantly downloadable PDF, EHS Real-Life Answers On Lockout/Tagout And Machine Guarding. It's likely the answers you are seeking are already here, waiting for you. Get them now!
- How often to inspect each piece of equipment for the lockout/tagout maintenance procedure that another crew will complete the next day
- How you pass off the keys/locks/tags/etc. so the new crew is protected
- Whether any OSHA interpretations or other guidance is available on the use of programmable logic controllers for use in interlocks
- Whether safety guards must be painted safety orange or any other color
- And more!
Get yours today.
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