While we bemoan the rise in prominence of health and safety regulations in the workplace, we also understand that they are there for our benefit. There was a time when scant attention was paid to the operation of potentially dangerous machinery, and to other hazardous methods of working, and it is no secret that many injuries and fatalities came about as a result. These days, the procedures we sometimes moan about following are there to make the workplace much safer.
Indeed, every employer has a basic legal requirement to ensure that the workplace is a safe and healthy environment for the workforce to operate within. This includes making sure machinery and other equipment is correctly maintained and operated to within the required standards.
When it comes to maintenance, there can be certain dangers with many types of machinery, which is why a routine has come into force that ensures the safety of the team who are performing the maintenance or routine servicing. This is known as Lockout Tagout, or LOTO, and in some places it is a legal requirement.
What is LOTO?
As we said above, lockout tagout is a routine that is designed to ensure machinery and other equipment is safe to work on, or alternatively, that equipment such as fork lifts or other potentially dangerous equipment can only be operated by a designated user. It is a simple yet effective routine that is operated across the UK and Ireland, and in many other countries where it goes by this or another name.
LOTO involves one designated individual shutting down the machine using a set procedure, and it works very much as follows:
- Operator announces shutdown so all are prepared
- Power source – or sources – are located
- Power source – or sources – are isolated
- The power source is locked, and tagged with the name and contact details of the operator
- Checks are made to prove the machine is inoperable
This routine ensures that one person is responsible for the shutdown of the machine. That same person is also solely responsible for it being restarted, which can only be done when they are physically present. There are special locks available for lockout tagout use of different types of power sources, and tags that are designed to display the information required. You can turn to Lockout Safety for any of the required equipment.
Training needs to be given to people who will be designated operators, which brings us back to the point: how often is lockout tagout training required?
Training should be given in the lockout tagout procedure to a number of capable individuals. They need to be operators of the machinery or equipment concerned and to have full understanding of the shut-down and start-up procedures of the equipment. They also need to be of the understanding that, should the machine need to be restarted during maintenance, they will be responsible for returning to the location to enable this to happen.
Lockout tagout training is worth updating on a regular basis as you may have staff turnover, new machinery installed, or you could find that rules and regulations are amended from time to time. You should also make sure your LOTO tags are stocked regularly. It is important that you are up to date with your health and safety requirements, and that you are fully aware of what is required by law.
There are many people offering comprehensive lockout tagout training, and they will be more than happy to talk to you and your team about the procedures. You will also find that they can offer training on-site, so you can gather your team together and get the job done. It’s always worth being on top of regulations if you want to stay safe.