What is Lock Out Tag Out?
Lock Out Tag Out (called LOTO for short) is a concept used in workplaces to protect workers from getting maimed or injured while repairing or carrying out any kind of maintenance on a machine or equipment. Lock Out ensures that the energies that power the machine are isolated while the worker repairs the machine, to prevent it from starting inadvertently. This is the lock out part of the process. The Tag Out means that a tag is affixed to the place from where the energy is isolated, so that somebody does not start it by mistake, the tag warns the person not to start it as somebody is working on the machine.
Here’s a video that explains the concept of Lock Out Tag Out.
Accidents can happen if the LOTO procedure is not followed.
Is lock out tag out only applicable for electric motors?
No, LOTO is applicable for any machine or equipment that needs its energy to be isolated while working on it to prevent accidents.The LOTO procedure is very common for electric motors and hence many people who work in manufacturing plants will be aware of it because there may be hundreds or even thousands of electric motors on a site and everytime some maintenance work needs to be done on it, obviously the electric supply needs to be disconnected. So the concept is very easy to understand in the context of motors.
However it is used on any equipment that uses any kind of energy including electricity, steam, nitrogen, compressed air, etc.
Thus equipment like Steam driven pumps, or chemical reactors that have steam and nitrogen connected to it, or a hydraulic press that uses electricity- all need LOTO while carrying out maintenance.
Cannot simply powering off the equipment work? Why should it be disconnected?
You can of course simply power off an equipment, but when you are working on it what if somebody restarts it? This will be sure to cause injury to the person who is working on it. Hence the person who is repairing it should ensure that the energy is not just switched off, but disconnected and locked and only he/she can re-energize it. This is Lockout. The tag that is affixed to the locking mechanism, displays the name of the person who is working on it and also a warning not to energize it. This should deter some third person from fiddling with the padlock and trying to energize it again. This is the tag out. Taken together, the process is called LOTO-Lock Out Tag Out.
When should lock out tag out be followed?
Each time and every time. Even once if you do not follow it, you have a chance of getting injured or killed. Why not follow LOTO? It is the safest and easiest thing to do. OSHA and other regulatory agencies mandate that lock out tag out be followed.
Where is LOTO followed?
Lock Out Tag Out is followed everywhere- in manufacturing plants, agricultural grain processing sites, ships, commercial buildings-wherever energy isolation during maintenance is needed.
Is Lock Out Tag Out expensive?
Not at all, a couple of padlocks, hasps, wires and tags cost almost nothing. Also you can take the free LOTO training online.
Where can I learn more about Lock Out Tag Out?
You can take the more detailed Abhisam LOTO Professional training course online, where you can learn everything. This lockout tagout training is available online and includes how to develop your own lock out tag out procedure too.