SafetyQuip Lock Out Tag Out

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A good Lock Out, Tag Out (LOTO) system is a mainstay of an effective safety regime. If you’re operating hazardous equipment or processes, the rewards of good safety are not confined to the simple avoidance of injury, desirable though that may be. A good LOTO system can bring an immediate boost to your bottom line by increasing your productivity and reducing your insurance premiums.

LOTO is a system for inhibiting the operation of hazardous machinery or operational zones - for which more than one employee has responsibility - to allow maintenance or other operations to be performed safely.

It works by locking the device using a tag which can be secured by several individual locks, each of which is controlled by one of the employees concerned. As each employee completes his work, he removes his lock. Finally, when the supervisor is satisfied that all necessary work has been performed, he removes his own lock, allowing use of the device or zone to be resumed. A variant of this LOTO procedure is to lock the device with only one lock, but to secure the keys to the lock in a container which is itself secured by a separate lock controlled by each responsible employee. Which system is used is a matter of practicability.

Of course, the hardware used to lock devices is only one element of a LOTO system. The essence of LOTO is the isolation protocol it embodies. The precise design of isolation protocol is as varied as the industries they have to serve, and it is the responsibility of each enterprise to design one that is practicable for its plant, and which complies with applicable OHS regulations. However, it’s safe to say that a good isolation protocol should embody at least the following steps:

  • Shut down the plant
  • Identify all energy sources and other hazards
  • Identify all isolation points
  • Isolate all energy sources
  • Dissipate and exhaust all stored energies
  • Lock out all isolation points
  • Tag all plant controls, energy sources and other hazards
  • Test by “trying” to re-activate the plant, with all employees safeguarded. This last requirement leads some to talk of “LOTOT” – Lock Out, Tag Out and Try”

LOTO systems are intriguing, in that while they physically prevent the operation of hazardous equipment, they are not intended to resist a determined effort to break them. Their purpose is to prevent inadvertent operation, not intentional sabotage, and the primary means by which they do so is visual, not physical. A good LOTO system should do its job by advertising to someone several metres away that the device or zone it is protecting is locked and not to be used. Physically, LOTO locks are as diverse as the devices they have to protect. But all must be designed to advertise their presence at the greatest possible distance, even when plant failure has resulted, for instance, in loss of light.

The best-designed LOTO hardware supports this objective, making the task of designing the isolation protocol that much easier. SafetyQuip distribute Brady Australia’s comprehensive and ever-expanding range of LOTO hardware. The Brady range covers a multitude of hazards – electrical, steam, toxic fluids and vapours and so on. And if you’re anxious about interpreting the OHS regulations that govern your industry, don’t worry. SafetyQuip stay right on top of developments in Australian state and federal workplace safety regulation and can assist their customers with compliance.

Need LOTO advice? Send us a query, and we’ll tell you the best way to keep your workforce and plant safe and secure.