You’ve completed most, if not all, of your LOTO procedures, and you’ve started to use them. You’ve worked out the roles and responsibilities of those involved. Now it’s time to move into the phase of maintaining them. A big part of that is making sure that your employees are using those procedures correctly and regularly. To do that, you use inspections and audits of the people performing the lockouts.
Carry out these inspections on a regular basis. Lockout/Tagout was so crucial to your company that they created a complete program for it, assigning roles and responsibilities. If you’re not policing it, that initial investment can become worthless in no time at all. If a big problem is developing, regular inspections can find it quickly.
How Many Inspections Should You Do?
The Statistical Approach
Although the statistical approach is guaranteed to deliver significant results, the problem we are facing …
Why Nitpicking is so Important
Let’s get into details by focusing on the lockout tagout labels you’ll be placing on the different types of isolating devices (and machinery if this is not already done). I’ll explain why it’s important to properly choose your tag material.
What are your lockout tagout tags made of?
What’s the best material to use in the particular environment you’re in? If you’re in a fairly neutral, mild-temperature environment, you have the most options to choose from. But if you’re in a very hot, cold, damp, or corrosive environment, you must be very careful of your choices of tag and fastener materials.
Plastic tags are cheap and easy to manufacture. They are fairly durable but may not be able to withstand extreme temperatures. In that case you could go to heavy duty labels such as stainless steel or aluminum tag.
But what if there’s something acidic …
Picture this, you’re in your living room about to install a new ceiling fan, but you want to make sure the power is off first. So you have someone stand in the room with the light on while you run to the basement or garage where the breaker box is. Now you systematically try each breaker that has the potential to be the right one yelling after each one, “how about now?” until they yell back, “The light just turned off!”
Sounds familiar? Well, that’s quite often how large facilities verify that the power is off too. Someone will be standing next to the equipment with radio while someone in a different room will try to start it.
The problem with this method is that it only covers one of the two reasons why you should perform start-up tests or zero energy verifications as part of your lockout strategy.
Once a Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO) management system has been rolled out, it is a good practice to track and monitor some key performance indicators in order to provide insights into the performance of the LOTO system. This article will elaborate on these indicators, expected trends and desired outcomes a leader should keep an eye on to ensure proactive actions and better program implementation.
The first step is clearly to track how many procedures have been created, how many procedures are used regularly, and how many jobs are executed per day, per month, per year. The number of LOTO procedures used should be close to the number of job requests.
If the number of LOTO procedures used is below the expectation, it can be an indication that something is wrong. It can be a demonstration that employees and contractors are not using LOTO …
Figuring out a system to organize your lockout tagout procedures isn’t difficult but it takes a little planning before you get started. There are some basic decisions to make before you even start writing.
The most important one is, will you be using a document/spreadsheet-based system where you have each procedure documented separately, or are you going to use a dedicated software database system. There are pros and cons associated with each, but I’ll have to go over those in another article.
That’s the easy part. Now you must decide whether to write a procedure for each separate piece of equipment that might need repair or replacement, or do you simply make procedures for entire systems. You’ll have to see if you can isolate one item, or you need to shut down the entire production line when doing maintenance.
Let’s say that locking out the single motor takes several steps to make sure that it’s properly isolated from everything around it. But this motor is within the production …
Too often, hundreds of thousands of dollars in time and money go up in smoke because the lockout tagout system is not functional. Such a system has ramifications in many processes in addition to being an administrative mitigation measure that prevents High Potential events (HiPos) and Serious Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs).
It is very important to properly plan out your lockout tagout project before taking any actions. This is especially true in larger facilities as the procedures can take months to write out completely. In order to provide a structure for the success of its projects, CONFORMiT has been honing its OSHA compliant hazardous energy isolation management methodology for the past 35 years.
The methodology is roughly divided into three main sections:
1. The Planning
2. The Structure
3. The Implementation
CONFORMiT experts have developed an infaillible LOTO methodology mapping and we are delighted to share this “secret sauce” with …