Every year people at work are injured, sometimes fatally, when plant is inadvertently activated. These injuries can be prevented by introducing correct isolation of plant procedures. The risks associated with any plant or equipment undergoing inspection, maintenance, cleaning, repair or construction should be assessed and appropriate control measures put in place. There are tight rules and guidelines in place to ensure safety.
That is why Lockout and Tagout equipment is so crucial – it protects both workers and visitors. Lockout Tagout is an important safety practice that helps to provide protection to workers and contractors when they are working on plant and machinery. Prior to any plant inspection, repair, maintenance or clean it must, where practicable, be shut down and its energy sources locked out and tagged as part of an isolation procedure to ensure the safety of those doing the work.
It is important to isolate the equipment correctly to avoid any accidental start-up of machinery, which could lead to injury (or worse). The plant should be stopped, appropriately isolated/locked and danger tagged; any stored energy should be dissipated. Some examples of energy sources include:
- hydraulic pressure
- compressed air or gas
- kinetic spring tension
- moving parts
Separate controls away from the plant operator or immediate work area must also be isolated or locked and danger tagged.
Isolation Procedures to keep workers safe when working on machinery
An isolation procedure is a set of steps that should be followed when workers are required to perform tasks such as inspection, maintenance, cleaning, repair and construction. The aim of an isolation procedure is to isolate all forms of potentially hazardous energy to ensure that an accidental release of hazardous energy does not occur; control all other hazards to those doing the work and ensure that entry to a restricted area is tightly controlled.
The following lock-out process is the most effective isolation procedure:
shut down the machinery and equipment – identify all energy sources and other hazards – identify all isolation points – isolate all energy sources.
In the case of electrical equipment ‘whole current isolation’, such as the main isolator, should be used instead of ‘control isolation’ by way of the stop button on a control panel – control or de-energise all stored energy – lock-out all isolation points, using padlocks, multi- padlock hasps and danger tags – ‘danger tag’ machinery controls, and energy sources and other hazards.
Test that the isolation is effective by ‘trying’ to reactivate the plant without exposing the tester or others to risk. Failure to reactivate the plant means that the isolation procedure is effective and that all stored energies have dissipated. This may require further measures to safely release these energies e.g. hydraulic or pneumatic pressure, suspended weight or compressed springs.
Using hasps locks in lockouts
Lockout Hasps are one of the items extensively used in Lockout Tagout procedures. They are designed to provide maximum protection to workers whilst carrying out maintenance of plant and machinery. The locking facility on lockout hasps is ideal in group isolation situations, where more than one person is working on a piece of equipment at any one time.
The hasp allows multiple Personal Lockout Padlocks to be applied to one isolation point together with a Lockout Device. This could be when multiple jobs are required to be carried out at the same time, or due to shift changes, where maintenance is taken over by another crew. The hasp is attached to the isolation point on the machinery.
The person doing the work then attaches their personal padlock to the hasp. Any other workers who may need to simultaneously do maintenance on the machinery also attach their personal lockout padlocks to the hasp, preventing the machinery from being operated until all locks have been removed.
An integral process to ensure that workers who are required to provide Maintenance and Repair of plant are safe as possible to carry out their work.
Energy cannot enter the machine – and stored energy cannot be released – so there’s no way it can start up accidently. The most effective way to isolate machines is to lock them out: First, shut it down and turn off the power at its source.
Isolating machinery when not in production
The process for machine isolation should be part of an organisation’s comprehensive safety management system. The process should include:
- identifying and assessing risk
- implementing suitable risk controls and reviewing them
- developing safe work method statements
- consulting with workers during the development of (and changes to) the safe work method
- ensuring only trained and competent workers undertake the task.
What is the best way of preventing machinery or electrical current from becoming operational during maintenance?
Lock out is the best way of preventing machinery or electrical current becoming operational during maintenance. A lock is attached to the machine switch so that it cannot be turned on. The worker working with the machinery or equipment should hold the only key to the lock.
Locks and danger tags
Every person working on isolated equipment should fit their own lock and/or danger tag. Alternatively, another management approved system that achieves an equivalent level of safety may be used.
When using locks or danger tags, consider the following:
- tags should be dated and signed
- locks should be accompanied by a corresponding tag to identify who has locked out the plant
- tags and locks should only be removed by the person who applied them or by the supervisor after consultation with the signatory of the danger tag. In the event
- that the person who applied the danger tag is unavailable, their tag or lock may only be removed in accordance with a management approved procedure
- danger Tags and/or locks should be fitted to all isolation points.
Out-of-service tags are used to identify equipment or machinery that has been taken out of service due to a fault, damage or malfunction.
Example of an ‘Out of Service’ tag
The out-of-service tag is to be securely fixed to the operating control power isolator with the appropriate details completed on the tag (explaining the reason for the machine being ‘out of service’).
The out-of-service tag should not be removed until the equipment is safe to be returned to service, or the reason for the out-of-service tag no longer exists.
The out-of-service tag may be removed by:
- the person who attached it
- the supervisor responsible for the operation or repair of the equipment
- the maintenance person who carried out the repairs.
Contact us so we can show you How We Will Keep Your Workers Safe
Locksafe have a range of effective and simple to use safety compliant lockout products, including hasps locks, which we can customise to meet your specific requirements. Email us or call 08 9455 7255 and we can discuss your particular needs.