Are You Just Tagging Out Only?

What is lockout and what is tag out? A tag out is a tag that should be durable and securely fastened to a locking device to ensure the tag cannot fall off. Tags should be legible in all weather conditions. Tags should only be applied and removed by the same authorized individual who attached it on a locking device.  These tags warn other individuals that a particular switch, valve or energy source is locked out in the off or safe position and should not be operated.

A lockout is a device which provides a positive means for rendering a valve, switch, raised load, coiled spring or any other energy source inoperative. Locking out is a necessary step for ensuring the safety of your workers/co-workers prior to their performing maintenance or service. The lockout device can be a padlock, restraining bar, chain and padlock, or any device which prevents a machine from being energized or releasing stored energy.

So, back to the title, are you just tagging out only? If you are, someone in your company can get hurt. Tags are often over looked or sometimes ignored by some individuals. A person may need to use the equipment or forklift only for a “second” and because the forklift or equipment was just tagged out, the equipment can still be used. Bottom line, you need to do both; you need to lock out and tag out.

Employees need to be thoroughly trained how to lock out a piece of equipment. This is OSHA mandated training!  You also need to teach your people to identify multiple energy sources. Example: If a propane forklift was put out of service, water pump was removed and oil drained out of the engine, but the individual only removed the propane coupler from the tank and enclosed it in a locking device, the truck can still turn over because the appropriate steps were not taken to lock out the battery to the truck.  Granted, an operator would not have the ability to start it without the propane tank connected to it, but if the engine still turns over it could cause more damage to the truck or someone could be injured because the engine was still operational.  By simply locking out the battery, power will not be available to the truck, therefore turning it over will not be possible. 

Teach your employees that if one person is working on a piece of equipment and it is locked out and tagged out properly, and another individual needs to work on the same piece of equipment, then that second person MUST attach their own lock and tag on the first lock by using a hasp. A hasp allows multiple locks to be applied to one device. This piece of equipment cannot be put back into service until all locks have been removed by each individual who attached it to the hasp.

There are many stories of individuals who properly locked/tagged out a piece of equipment and left the machine unattended to get parts, then another individual saw the lock and tag on the equipment and assumed it safe to do routine maintenance. When the individual who left the machine to get parts returned with parts in hand, he installed them and removed his lock and tag then started up the machine. The person inside was not visible and was killed by the start-up of the equipment. How could this have been prevented? If the second person had applied his/her own lock and tag on the equipment, the individual who was originally operating the machine would have seen the lock attached and would not have been able to start the machine. Yes, it was that simple and a life could have been saved.

Always emphasize to your employees that removing another person’s tag and lock is a serious offense that could lead to termination. It is necessary to take it to that level because machine operator lives depend on proper lockout/tag out procedures. Make sure the only person who holds the keys to the locks are the people who put the locks on. Only they have the keys and nobody can remove a lock except the individual who put the lock in place. No exceptions!

Be Safe,

Dave Bennett, EH&S MGR/TRAINER
Thompson & Johnson Eq. Co. Inc.
6926 Fly Rd.
E. Syracuse, NY 13057
315-413-4146 Direct
315-439-8271 Cell

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