Lockout and Tagout Systems Ensure Crew Safety

Maintaining a lockout and tagout system that is clearly marked and easy to use but difficult to defeat can mean the difference between life and death. A lockout and tagout system is commonly used when maintenance workers must work around equipment which could cause death or injury if operated before an all-clear is given.

Tag the System to Inform Other Team Members

It may not be obvious why tags and locks are needed unless you understand the size and complexity of industrial systems. A paper machine may be the size of a house and may have dozens of operators and maintenance people associated with it. Without clear marking as to why a system is down and when it’s expected to be back online, confusion is all too easy. Tags placed at critical switches and at operating stations provide this information.

Lock Out for Safety

Locks prevent accidental or malicious system starts during maintenance. A simple valve lock is all that’s needed if a single team member will be working on a system and needs to ensure that one valve isn’t turned. For more complex situations, a specialized hasp that holds multiple keyed locks is used.  This ensures that a system cannot be started until all team members are accounted for. For example, if a pipefitter, an electrician, and a millwright all needed to perform work on a system, each would place a lock on the same hasp that locks out the critical switch or control. Each worker retains their own key on their person. Only after each worker removes their lock can the hasp be opened and the machine activated again.

For a complex situation like the one described, a safety manager should also be involved in planning the job to ensure that all potentially hazardous points of electrical or material flow are disabled for the duration of the job.