Everything you need to know about Isolation Switches
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What is a starter isolator switch?

An isolation switch is often referred to as a safety switch. It is an electrical switch that is designed to interrupt the flow of electricity when machinery is turned off to prevent injuries and fatalities should machinery fail to stop.

Whilst electricity is wired, when a switch is turned off, the power should discontinue, however sometimes failures can occur that can cause serious harm and even fatalities. By installing a safety switch to your machinery, you are adding another level of security by stopping a failure or power being transmitted and running to a machine even when the power is turned off.

What is a battery isolator

What is a battery isolator?

A battery isolator is a large relay, often used in mining and agricultural machinery, to disconnect the battery power from a vehicle. This is a quicker way than to disconnect the whole battery from a piece of machinery. Once a battery isolator is ‘on’, it stops the flow of power to the vehicle, and it is essentially turned around and redirected back to the battery. This ensures that machinery is not able to receive current to allow it to operate.

How does an isolator switch work?

Electricity should always be handled with the upmost care, and if it’s not used correctly, it can cause serious harm. An isolator puts another barrier in place should a power surge try to reach the machine. It acts by closing the circuit and stopping the connection between the electricity source and the machine. 

A motor isolation system usually consists of a hard lockable switch that isolates the power to a vehicle starter motor. This stops people from turning on or driving a piece of machinery or work vehicle that is being worked on by a member of staff. It can allow power to auxiliary functions, such as lights, and radios, which means mechanics can still carry out performs checks on the equipment safely but doesn’t give the capacity for full operations.

What is an isolation cabinet

What is an isolation cabinet?

Isolation cabinets should be manufactured using quality stainless steel and are suitable for all worksites including mining sites, manufacturing, and industrial factory environments, meaning they are built to withstand harsh environments. Locksafe cabinets can be manufactured to suit your specific requirements and needs. For most worksites, a focus on safety and reducing downtime are crucial factors in the industry, as always time is money. Isolation cabinets protect shut off values from the elements and can be used to complete regular maintenance. If an incident arises, the power can be shut off immediately, thereby mitigating the risk of injuries and fatalities.  

Key features of when using isolation devices

The risks can be high with any plant or mining equipment when undergoing routine inspections, cleaning, or maintenance. Before commencing work, the vehicle or plant machinery should be stopped and isolated. The steps to follow should be:

  1. Shut down machinery
  2. Identify all energy sources
  3. Isolate all energy sources
  4. Lock out all isolation points using Australian standard equipment
  5. Check isolations are functional
  6. Perform scheduled maintenance

Tag out/lock out procedures

Once a machine or plant equipment has been isolated, it should be fitted with a visible danger or lock out tag.

Tags should generally be:

  • Dated and signed
  • Locks should be accompanied with the correct tag to identify who has lock out of the equipment
  • Tags and locks should be removed by the person who attached them, or job site supervisors.
  • Tags should be fitted to all isolation points.

In the event that machinery cannot be fixed and is taken out of service then a ‘out of service’ tag should be displayed, and not removed until the equipment is safe for to return to normal operation duties.

Following isolation procedures on machinery in the workplace

Following isolation procedures on machinery in the workplace

When you are working in mine or construction sites, the environment can lend itself to being hazardous and a large portion of incidents occur during regular maintenance of plant and mining machinery. Isolation of equipment is often referred to as lock out/tag out systems and is used to isolate machinery and equipment from the original energy source. Rule and guides can often be dependent on your location, so its best to check with local authorities and workplace safety to make sure that your job site is following all the regulations.

The rules and regulations to follow regarding machinery isolation are that the power should be isolated from the source and secured in a locked position. Quite simply, making it safe for all employees while regular maintenance is conducted. By using one of the many products available here at Locksafe, you are contributing to a safer working environment for you, contractors and employees. Safety equipment should be verified as per your company guidelines and by a suitably qualified and competent person in isolation procedures.

If you require a safety device for your job site or business, contact our team at Locksafe on (08) 9455 7255 for more information. We supply one of the largest ranges of safety lockout equipment in Australia. Our products are manufactured with quality stainless steel and are powder coated for protection and easy identification in the workplace. Talk to the experts in safety isolation today!

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