Lockout/Tag-Out: High Energy Machine Lockout Basics

Is your workplace using proper Lockout procedures? Are you familiar with Lockout / Tag-out? In an industrial setting, many of the devices used possess something known as Hazardous Energy. It is critical in a working environment to ensure all safety protocol for these machines are followed to ensure human and equipment protection. This article will provide an in-depth description of how to properly handle these machines, in a process called Lockout / Tag-out.

7 Steps to Follow for Proper Lockout / Tag Out

Any machine that utilizes a high energy mechanism will have specific instructions about managing the energy of the machine. A lockout mechanism is one in which a machine is placed in “Safe Mode”, and cannot become activated unless by deliberate means. This mechanism is vital in cases where a machine or facility must be cleaned or otherwise pose no threat to spontaneous activation. Often times this will include a physical lock that prevents unauthorized individuals from attempting to operate the machine. There are seven steps to a proper lockout procedure:

    1. Preparation: The person authorized to perform the lockout procedure reviews the necessary protocol and identifies the sources of energy as well as how to properly release the energy. The authorized personal must identify the mechanism behind the energy dispersion and understand its function.
    2. Notification: Any and all affected personnel who must be notified of the machine’s deactivation are given notice prior to any modification of the machine. The affected personnel must be informed about which machine is being locked out and why, who is performing the lockout and how long the system will be unavailable, and finally who to contact for more information about the lockout.
    3. Shutdown: This step is only undertaken when the authorized individual has notified all affected individuals and has adequately prepared for the shutdown of the machine. This step involves following the protocol for machine deactivation.
    4. Isolation from High Energy Source: The procedure will be machine specific and instructions will be found on the machine in question. However, general procedure involves switching off the power source and placing a padlock to effectively lock the power source into its deactivated state. Secondly, if there exists any hydraulic or potential energy systems, they too must be locked and isolated to ensure that accidental activation via chemical, gravitational, or mechanical means does not occur.
    5. Residual Energy Dissipation: A high energy machine stores energy to allow for its function otherwise it would not be able to perform its mechanism. This stored energy poses a safety risk if it is not addressed during a lockout procedure. Specifics about releasing the stored energy will be unique to the machine in question, however, general mechanisms include:
      • Electrical stored energy in the form of a capacitor which is used to release sudden bursts of energy to provide mechanical work
      • Hydraulic energy in the form of valves and high-pressure fluids
      • Mechanical potential energy such as charged springs
      • Gravitational energy such as weights that are suspended in order to conduct work
      • Chemical energy in the form of lines that contain volatile chemicals reactive chemicals
    6. Lockout: The physical locking out of the machine wherein only those who are authorized to activate the machine can unlock and operate the machine. Typically, if there are more than one personnel responsible for a system, each person possesses their own lock and all authorized individuals place their own lock on the system.
    7. Verification: Once the system has been locked out, a review of the closeout should be conducted to ensure that no steps were skipped, and that all necessary components have been properly adjusted according to protocol. This involves testing of the operational buttons and switches to verify non-function, visual inspection of all involved potential energy systems (e.g. gravity), and testing of the equipment and final observation of gauges and monitors to verify all energy is dissipated.

The procedures for every high energy machine should be closely adhered to as these machines are powerful and pose a threat to human life at all times. Great care must be taken when working in these conditions to ensure the safety of all people involved.

Let Advanced Consulting & Training Help Asses & Train Your Workplace for Lockout / Tag Out

For more on running proper Lockout / Tag-out processes and safe operations, contact us today. Advanced Training & Consulting offers safety training courses as well as consulting services.

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