What is a Lockout Tagout Procedure?
Perhaps you have already experienced what it’s like to have a machine be locked down and have it’s lockout tagout procedure begin. Or, maybe it’s never happened to you before and you are curious what it’s like. Either way, it’s always good to know more about this common, but essential manufacturing safety feature.
Following the rules of a lockout tagout procedure is essential to ensuring the safety of everyone involved in said machine’s operation. When it is deemed no longer suitable for operation and requires a temporary shutdown for repairs, it is deemed off limits. But what are the exact steps of a lockout tagout procedure, and are there any safety tips to keep in mind when it is in effect? Let’s find out.
Who Gets Involved with a Lockout Tagout Procedure?
First the lockout tagout procedure will be initiated by pre-designated authorized employees. These are the people tasked with shutting down the machine and keeping it locked and tagged as out of service.
As for the workers who were originally assigned to the machine in question, they may be assigned to a new machine or task, or could even be trained as an aforementioned authorized employee tasked with locking out and tagging out the machine.
Steps for Shutting Down and Locking Out the Machine
Next you need to locate the specific procedure for said machine. Not every machine will be locked out and shut down in the exact same way, as their unique mechanisms will often require specific steps. Locate the manual for the machine and follow any specific instructions it has on how to shut down the machine properly.
This is often done by having all of the energy sources located and deactivated. Don’t just think about electricity, because odds are there are hydraulic or chemical sources involved as well. These need to be turned off before the machine is locked out.
The next step will be notifying all employees who are involved with the machinery in question. They will need to know soon that this machine is out of operation and will not be in service for the time being.
Keep in mind that there are some exceptions to the lockout tagout procedure, particularly when it comes to the lockout stage. While most machinery in these kinds of shops is complex and requires multiple steps to be shutdown properly, some have a simple cord and plug system just like any home appliance. In these instances, feel free to simply unplug the machine.
Next, you will want to find the appropriate tags to hang on the machine. These serve as both locks and signs to let everyone know that the machinery is out of service and never to be tampered or tinkered with until notified otherwise.
If the machine in question has any energy still stored inside of it at the time of the lockout tagout procedure, take appropriate steps to release all of this energy. For safety reasons all machines must be released of any lingering steam or hydraulic pressure before being locked out.
Next, you should test the safety controls of the machine to make sure it is truly out of operation. This includes, if applicable, the punch brake controllers, or press brake operator controls. This gives you 100% certainty that no residual energy is inside of the machine so that it won’t be activated by accident, causing any kind of accident or emergency. Be sure to clear the area of any bystanders or unneeded materials before performing this step. After this, return all of the controls to their neutral or off positions.
Once this is done, the machine is officially done going through the lockout tagout procedure and is ready to be worked on for repairs.
Lockout Tagout Procedure for Minor Machine Repairs
You might be wondering if a machine that only needs quick and minor repairs has to go through all of the motions of a lockout tagout procedure, especially if the repairs themselves might take even less time than the lockout tagout procedure. This could also apply if the machinery is being upgraded with new safety equipment as well.
You might be in luck. Changes, adjustments, repairs or any other forms of scheduled machine maintenance can act as exceptions to the lockout tagout procedure rules. As long as the repair or maintenance does not require you to interact with or bypass any so-called danger zones, or the danger zone only comes into contact with tools rather than human body parts, then you can perform the task without shutting and locking down the machine.
For more information on new manufacturing safety equipment for your companies machinery, MetalTech has the innovative technology for your machines needs. Please Contact MetalTech Controls for more information on how to keep your manufacturing shop and employees safe and efficient.
About Metal Tech Controls Corp.
Metal Tech Controls Corp. has been a professional, innovative, and trustworthy source since 1989 for press brake safety controls and systems, including the cutting-edge Laser Sentry system. Our products and services, just like our Florida-based business, are all proudly Made in America.