The key to preventing lockout incidents, says WSPS consultant Michael Wilson, is understanding which hazardous energies you are dealing with. Up to eight potential sources must be controlled before a worker can safely carry out maintenance and repair tasks.
"If you take a look at incidents, very often you can trace root causes back to not being ready for the job, not appreciating what you are up against."
So how does an employer ensure workers are ready? Mike provides tips and advice in an impactful video, Machine Safeguarding - Control Hazardous Energy with a Lockout Program.
6 steps to lockout
In the video, Mike's lists the six basic steps in a lockout program:
- identification of machinery to be locked out
- proper shutdown sequence
- isolation of hazardous energy
- control of any stored energy
- verification of control.
These steps are the heart of a lockout program, but as Michael explains there’s more to keeping people safe.
Identify energy sources
A critical first step before implementing a program and training workers, says Mike, is to inventory all energy sources connected to your machines. These sources may not be obvious.
"Whenever we do lockout training, participants typically identify just three possible energy sources. But there are actually eight, which we discuss in the course: electric, thermal, hydraulic, chemical, radiation, gravity, compressed air, and kinetic."
How do you conduct an inventory? "Start with the manufacturer's information manuals. Your maintenance, engineering and operations staff would certainly be able to tell you what energy sources are in play. And of course, you can always invite WSPS consultants to help you with this task."
Once you know what you're dealing with, create step-by-step procedures for controlling hazardous energy in your equipment prior to conducting maintenance, explains Mike.
Workers executing lockout should have knowledge, training and experience relating to these steps and to the sources of energy they are dealing with, says Mike. "Don't forget about supervisors. They also need to be aware of lockout procedures to ensure workers follow the process."
Developing machine-specific lockout instructions is a wise practice, especially when posted on individual placards for each machine. "It's a nice little review of training," says Mike. "For example, workers can go up to the placard, and say, 'Okay, here are the energy sources I am dealing with, and I need this many locks, I shut down the electrical over here, and I shut down the air over there.' As a result, they're better prepared to do the job."
The last step in the lockout process is to check that you are actually in control of the equipment. "I advise employers and workers to take a second and try to start it. Try to operate it, to make sure you are truly in control of that machine before you stick a hand or arm inside."
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