Lockout/Tagout exists to prevent unexpected start up of the equipment or energy to prevent injury to the employee while servicing.
Lockout-tagout (LOTO) or lock and tag is a safety procedure which is used in industry and research settings to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work. A disconnect switch, circuit breaker, manually operated valve, blind flange and any other device used to ensure that power or energy can not flow to a piece of machinery or equipment all come under this procedure.
Energy sources including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing of machines and equipment, the unexpected start up or release of stored energy could cause injury to employees. Proper Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from the release of hazardous energy. The OSHA standard for The Control of Hazardous Energy(Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147) for general industry, outlines specific action and procedures for addressing and controlling hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.
The Lockout/Tagout standard establishes the employer's responsibility to protect employees from hazardous energy in machines and equipment during service and maintenance. An initial review should be made to determine which switches, valves, or other energy isolating devices apply to the equipment being locked out since more than one energy source may be involved. When equipment is to be locked out, employers, supervisors and workers should always follow standard lockout procedures.
The standards establish requirements that employers must follow when employees are exposed to hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining machinery and equipment. Some of the most critical requirements from these standards are outlined as below:
Employees servicing or maintaining machinery and equipment may be exposed to serious physical harm or death, if hazardous energy is not controlled properly. Craft workers, machine operators, and laborers are among the workers who service equipment and are exposed to high risks. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standards prevents an estimated 60,000 injuries or fatalities each year.