man attaching a lockout tag to an electrical control panel
man attaching a lockout tag to an electrical control panel

5 Steps to Build an Effective LOTO Plan

Since OSHA introduced Standard 1910.147, great strides have been made to increase safety and reduce incidents of injury in workplaces everywhere.  Having a Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) plan plays a vital role in protecting workers and employees from life-threatening accidents on a regular basis. This is not just to industrial locations, many furniture warehouses have areas that could benefit from a LOTO plan.

Here are five steps to building an effective LOTO plan for your company:

 1. Identify All Equipment

The first step to a putting together a LOTO plan is to decide which of your machines and devices need to locked out or tagged out. In order to do that, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it require a power source?
  • Are there pinch points in the machinery or is it possible to get a limb caught in it?
  • When completing maintenance, does someone have to physically enter the machine?

Does the machine have any exposed gears, chains or mechanisms that move when the machine is activated?

2. Create Procedures

Most OSHA citations occur as the result of a lack of proper lockout procedures, program documentation or periodic inspections. Make sure you create – and implement – specific procedures that disable machines and isolate them from their energy sources. Effective lockout programs save lives. In fact, according to OSHA, lockout/tagout programs prevent an estimated 250,000 incidents, 50,000 injuries and 120 deaths each year. In addition to helping companies avoid expensive OSHA fines, LOTO plans help organizations reduce their insurance costs and minimize employee and equipment downtime.

3. Equip Employees With Devices

Provide all your employees with the lockout/tagout devices they need to work safely. When locking out pieces of equipment around your facilities, employees should follow these steps:

  • Notify other employees about your intent to lock out the equipment.
  • Review the written lockout procedure.
  • Perform the normal machine stop.
  • Shut off and lock out all energy isolation controls.
  • Dissipate any stored or residual energy.

Verify the zero-energy state before servicing the machine.

4. Train Employees

Employees should receive proper training on lockout/tagout policies and procedures. When OSHA evaluates your company’s lockout/tagout compliance, there are three categories of employees that require various levels of training:

  • AUTHORIZED: Employees who perform the lockout on machinery and equipment for maintenance
  • AFFECTED: Employees who do not perform lockout, but use the machinery being serviced

OTHER: Employees who do not use the machinery, but who work in the vicinity of a piece of equipment receiving maintenance

5. Audit Annually

OSHA requires employers to conduct audits of their lockout/tagout program at least one time every year. That said, the inspection must be performed by an authorized employee not involved in the energy control procedure being audited. During an inspection:

  • The employer must identify any deficiencies or deviations and correct them.
  • The inspector must review each authorized employee’s responsibilities where lockout is used.
  • The inspector must review responsibilities for both authorized and affected employees where tagout is used.
  • The employer must certify that periodic inspections have been performed.
  • The lockout/tagout certification should identify the machine on which the procedure is utilized, the date of the inspection, the employees included in the inspection and the individuals who performed it.

Source: Emedco, Workplace Safety Blog

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