Lockout/tagout are specific practices universally accepted to shield employees from accidental energization or the startup of equipment, thereby releasing hazardous energy while performing maintenance activities. This practice demands that, in part, a designated system first turns off or disconnects the machinery from all its energy sources before any service or maintenance is carried out.
However, despite this knowledge, some employees might make one or two mistakes that could expose them to the danger of electrocution and this is one of the reasons companies are encouraged to emphasize on training and retraining their employees to help them understand how to keep themselves and others safe.
Why lockout/tagout training is essential
You need to first appreciate the fact that everyone is prone to making errors and this could be made worse by lack of the skills and knowledge that would, to a large extent, reduce the chances of making mistakes. Training employees on lockout/tagout principles and safety practices basically prevents the occurrence of accidents that could turn out fatal. Most of the equipment used in different industries is powered by electricity and the wattage provided is high for a human being to handle the system with bare hands.
You need to understand how to disconnect the machines from their sources of power to facilitate safe maintenance processes, but not many are informed about the best way to do this. The process of disconnecting from power sources itself could be a risk, so every employee needs some education on how each machine is powered and the most advisable way to disconnect from power sources, should there be need to service the machine.
Therefore, implementing a training program would be a noble initiative that not only protects employees, but also ensures no damage is made due to erroneous disconnection or connection. Additionally, it also eliminates the chances of a company losing in legal suits for employees injured while servicing machines or equipment.
Procedures to follow before maintenance activities
Your workers need to follow some basic practices that would protect them from electrocution or any other risks emanating from handling a machine that is still connected to its power source. The OSHA requirements released for every company to use are clear and here is part of what they state.
- Before any maintenance is initiated, workers must prepare for shutdown
- The machine should be shut down to facilitate easy disconnection from power source
- The machine is them disconnected or isolated from power sources
- The application of lockout/tagout devices to the energy isolating devices follows
- Render safe all areas that are potentially able to store hazardous energy, and make sure to regularly verify that this energy has not accumulated back to hazardous levels
- Confirm the deenergization of the machine before maintenance eventually commences
For all the above processes to be performed well, you need to ensure that your employees are brought up to grip with the facts and ideas that can help them pursue maintenance without risking accidents. It is a procedure that seems subtle but its relevance in the maintenance process cannot be overlooked. If new information emerges, you need to retrain your workers to ensure they have relevant skills. This should also be the case whenever new machines are acquired that use different mechanisms.
Change in job assignment or role could also give a reason for retraining. The employee could be conversant with a different machine and appointing him/her to a new device without the necessary training could put the entire system at a risk. While planning to conduct maintenance on your equipment, you should underscore the importance of educating your employees about the relevance of following the right practices of deenergization. You could even hire professionals to assist you in this role if you feel it would benefit your workers more.