Why Graphical?

So why are graphical lockout/tagout procedures becoming so popular? Looking at the sample procedures below, it’s easy to see some of the obvious reasons many companies are moving in that direction.

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Comparison of Text vs. Graphical

The procedure on the left is the traditional list of steps for locking out the equipment. It’s a lot to read and difficult to process all the information given.

The middle procedure organizes the information in a grid; it’s quick to create, simply check all sources present and add any extra information. It’s easier to read, but provides less detail and is easier to misinterpret.

Finally, the procedure on the right uses pictures to show all isolation points, color-codes source types, and provides a grid of extra information.

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The Benefits of Graphical Procedures

  • The inclusion of pictures helps make the process of locking out a machine faster. Newer employees will have added confidence that they are following the procedure correctly, and senior maintenance personnel can use the grid for a quick checklist of what to lock out.
  • Graphical procedures are easier to read. Instead of reading through a whole page of text, employees are able to quickly pull the information they need from procedure
  • Use of color coded tags provides a triple check of lockout points. The employee can see a picture of the correct disconnect, read the grid below to verify the disconnect type and location matches what they are seeing, and can reference the isolation source ID tag  to make sure the correct electrical source are turned off and all necessary valves are closed.
  • Less text and fewer words are needed to convey information. By adding pictures and presenting extra information in a grid pattern, less words are needed to describe source type, location, necessary devices, and shutdown methods.
  • Addition of color coding makes procedures easier to use. The procedure sources can be color-coded to match the source tags hung as well as the color of the pipe labels.
  • Bilingual facilities will find added value. Pictures minimize the amount of information that needs to be translated in the case of bilingual and global companies.
  • Graphical procedures can be used to overcome functional illiteracy. As surprising as it may be, there are millions of Americans who are unable to read or pull key information from a set of text. Pictures confirm understanding for all employees.

Benefits aside, it’s not surprising that many companies are choosing the graphical route. It’s the growing trend everywhere, from instruction manuals to 5S boards, because of it’s efficiency.

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