Creating Your Own Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Filed under Expert Tips
Knowing the equipment, the different energy sources, and the requirements for a complete procedure will ensure quality lockout/tagout procedures are produced."

Common Pitfalls and Forgotten Information

When it comes to developing machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures, it is easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. Creating your own lockout/tagout procedures requires a large amount of time and commitment. When creating the procedures, it is common to forget descriptive information, energy sources other than electrical, and non-lockable energy sources. Knowing the equipment, the different energy sources, and the requirements for a complete procedure will ensure quality lockout/tagout procedures are produced. Here are some essential details to include when creating your own lockout/tagout procedures.

DSC00488Include Descriptive Information About the Machine

Once the basic template for the lockout/tagout procedure has been decided upon, it is essential to make sure that all of the necessary header information is included. The equipment information helps identify the specific machine it is written for and assures employees that they are reading the correct procedure. Some suggestions for information to be included on all procedures are:

  • Description or name of equipment
  • Equipment number
  • Location of the equipment

By including all of this information, the employee will be able to ensure that they have chosen the right procedure for the lockout (especially if the procedures are not hanging at point of use).

Remember to Include All Energy Sources

inspecting-equipment-creating-lockout-tagout-proceduresToo often when reviewing in-house procedures, the creator of the procedure only marks down electrical energy, when there is usually other sources to include. Remember that electricity is not the only energy source that can hurt or kill somebody; it is just as important to include other sources as it is to include the electrical source. The other lockable energy sources that need to be included if they are incorporated within the machinery are:

  • Compressed Air
  • Gases
  • Steam
  • Fuels and chemicals
  • Water

For both compliance and safety, all of these sources must be listed in the procedure to provide full employee protection.

engineer-creating-procedure-on-ipadConsider Non-Lockable Energy Sources

Just as important as the lockable energy sources listed above, the non-lockable energy sources also must be included in the procedure when applicable. This includes energy that is stored internally in the equipment, and must be dissipated manually by the authorized employee prior to performing any service. Non-lockable energy sources are commonly the most forgotten piece of information in a lockout/tagout procedure, even though OSHA mandates the information be present. The common types of non-lockable energy sources are:

  • Kinetic energy
  • Potential from gravity
  • Potential from springs
  • Thermal energy
  • Hydraulic energy
  • Capacitance

Always be sure to look for potential sources of residual energy. Whether it’s an elevated load, rotating moving parts, or elements of a machine that become relatively hot, it is essential that these get accounted for within the procedure.

Extra Information

The last type of forgotten information is the special, machine-specific notes and steps. A good lockout/tagout procedure contains all of the information an employee needs to know to safety shutdown and lockout the machine. That being said, if there are additional hazards, such pinch points, pressurized lotoproceduresrefrigeration loops, or crushing hazards, that information needs to be listed. Also if other equipment should be shut down along with the machine being serviced to prevent equipment damage, a note must be added.

Summary

Creating lockout/tagout procedures in-house can easily become overwhelming and stressful, but by having a checklist of what to include and sources to look for, the probability of mistakes can be reduced. Be sure to know the equipment or ask operators when questions arise. The most important thing is to write a procedure for zero-energy state and ensure there are no remaining hazards that could harm an employee. The safety of the authorized employees performing service will be guaranteed when the procedure include all of the necessary information.
For help creating your own lockout/tagout procedures, visit the contact us page. See how ESC can get your company started with templates and small pilot projects to jump start  procedure creation.

About Dana Andersen
Dana Andersen is a mechanical engineer at ESC Services  She has managed many lockout/tagout implementation projects for large and small companies in the United States.  Dana has worked in many different industries and facilities, including manufacturing, food processing, universities, and hospitals.