By creating lock out tag out procedures (often written lockout/tagout or lockout/tagout) and making them available to employees, companies reduce the risk of an accident due to improperly locking out a machine when performing maintenance or service on the machine. To further reduce that risk, companies should ensure that employees will actually read and follow the procedures by making them as easy to use as possible. Below are a few tips for creating lock out tag out procedures that are easy to follow and encourage safety in the workplace.
1. Utilize a Graphical Approach to Creating Lock Out Tag Out Procedures
It is not uncommon for employers to create procedures using a strictly text-based model. But if employees see a wall of text when looking at a procedure, they will at best skim over the document, increasing the likelihood that they will miss some important piece of information. By including pictures that show the equipment, as well as all isolation points, a procedure will become much more valuable to an employee. They can easily see where each disconnect is, in relation to the unit, to effectively shut it down.
2. Employ a Clear, Step-by-Step Method
By listing all the steps to an effective lockout in an easy-to-read format, employers can simplify the procedure. List from top to bottom the appropriate steps, and make sure that employees are able to understand and follow each step; by walking through the procedure together before finalizing the document, employers can gain employee buy-in. If there are any questions, be sure to address them, and update the steps from the procedure if necessary.
3. Label the Disconnects
One advantage of having pictures on the procedure, is being able to point at the disconnects with an arrow, and identify them plainly. If using valve ID tags, attach labels at the end of each arrow with these ID numbers so there is no question if they are shutting off the correct isolation points. Color-coding procedure tags to match pipe labeling can also be useful.
4. Identify Which Devices to Use
While an experienced employee is likely to know which devices to use when locking out a piece of equipment, it doesn’t hurt to add this information to the procedure. If a new employee ever has a question about which device is best, they can refer to the procedure to see what the appropriate device is. Also, experienced employees can find it helpful to quickly check the document for necessary devices before gathering supplies to avoid extra trips to the lockout stations.
5. Simplify and Standardize the Wording and Format
For units that have more than one disconnect, employees should not have to search for the information they need. Implement columns that show the label for the disconnect, give a brief description of the type of energy being isolated, list the device needed, instructions for locking it out, and steps to verify the energy source has been shut off. Except for complicated equipment, try to keep the procedures to one page to avoid confusion and make sure that some steps are not skipped. Use similar wording when creating lock out tag out procedures; keep it simple and to the point.
Following these steps will ensure better documents and will help make sure employees do not disregard these important lock out tag out steps. By taking the time necessary to ensure lockout procedures are easy to use, employers can promote an environment of safety.
ESC Services has help hundreds of companies develop easy-to-use lock out tag out procedures with their clear, graphical procedure template. Creating lock out tag out procedures that are compliant and efficient is our priority. For more information, contact us.