National Electrical Safety Month – Effective Lockout Programs

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National Electrical Safety Month – Effective Lockout Programs

Did you know that May is National Electrical Safety Month? It’s a campaign sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to promote electrical safety in the home, school and workplace.

According to the ESFI, raising awareness of electrical hazards is the key to reducing injuries and death in the home and workplace. This week’s blog will focus on lockout/tagout safety.

Lockout/tagout, or LOTO, is a safety procedure to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work. This is an extremely important procedure that should never be overlooked.

Our vendor partner, Brady, shared an excellent white paper titled “Beyond the Products: 5-Steps to An Effective Lockout Program.”  Brady, who is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, is a global leader in providing LOTO solutions. They were the first to respond to the OSHA legislation in 1990 and they have maintained its position as the leading LOTO solutions provider.

LOTO

Here’s a brief summary of their whitepaper on the steps to an effective lockout program:

Step #1

The first step in an effective lockout program is to develop energy control policy/program. A written lockout document is integral to an effective program- it establishes the nuts and bolts. OSHA provides a LOTO tutorial that has great information on developing an energy control policy or program.

Step #2

The next step is to create written, equipment-specific lockout procedures. It is important for lockout procedures to be formally documents and must identify the equipment covered. You should detail the specific steps necessary for shutting down, isolating, securing and blocking equipment to control hazardous energy.

OSHA requires each machine have its own written program and each procedure must be reviewed annually.  French Gerleman has have found many customers have not completed these procedures, are behind due to equipment changes, are not reviewing their programs annually or are in need of an upgrade to their programs.  Together with Brady, French Gerleman offers a Visual Lockout Procedures (VLOP) service to develop and install machine procedures customized by industry experts for your facility.

Step #3

The third step is to identify energy control points. Locate and mark all energy control points, including switches, breakers, plugs and valves, with permanent labels or tags. Brady offers a complete line of labels and tags for various energy sources. For your convenience, Brady has a portable and industrial label maker that will produce custom labels and also link to the Brady LINK360 software procedure output.

Step #4

Step four, which is an extremely vital step, is training, communication and inspection. Establish a formal training program for employees based on the three categories of lockout, including “Authorized”, “Affected”, and “Other” employees. Brady offers safety training and seminar services for both the Authorized and Affected employee groups. They can also create custom lockout training programs tailored to your workplace.

Step #5

The final step in creating an effective lockout program is providing proper protective products. You must equip your employees with the proper lockout tools and warning devices to keep them safe. It’s important to know and document which devices are acceptable for use at every lockout point. Brady has published a Circuit Breaker Lockout Reference Guide, along with other advisory information documents, to help you determine what safety procedures you need to take.

In the end, the best practice lockout programs go beyond the products and must take into account the employees, machine specific requirements and the facility environment. If you would like more information beyond the whitepaper, Brady has also developed a downloadable eBook “The Safety Professional’s Expanded Guide to Lockout Tagout.”

Interested in learning more about LOTO programs or creating an effective VLOP program for your workplace? Contact Melissa Skaggs at 314-213-5867 or mskaggs@frenchgerleman.com.  We would be happy to work with you to create an effective program that works for you.