LOTO – Lock-Out Tag-Out
New Braunfels, TX, July 19, 2023
Many people have been seriously injured or killed by machinery and electrical equipment. Often, these tragedies happen because people carelessly try to repair or maintain a piece of equipment without making sure its energy source has been shut off. Many times, the accident happens when other workers restart the machine or piece of equipment, not knowing that another worker is in harm’s way. To prevent this type of tragedy, OSHA developed a standard that has very specific procedures for shutting off machinery, for making sure it can’t be operated after it’s been shut off, and for warning employees to stay away from potential hazards. This procedure is called “lockout/tagout.” The key to lockout/tagout is to make sure that the equipment you are about to work on is completely shut down AND secured as to prevent accidental restart. Here are three key points to remember when utilizing LOTO.
- Shut down the equipment.
- Secure the energy source.
- Test and retest.
SHUTDOWN THE EQUIPMENT
Before you begin the shutdown, it is important to understand what it is that you are working with. In our industry, it could be a wide range of equipment that requires unique sequencing or certain steps prior to shutting the equipment down. Simply turning the breaker off to an LTE cabinet will likely cause issues when it comes to bringing the sector or site back up on air. By understanding what it is that you are working with, you will help ensure that we don’t damage or cause harm to the equipment and or individuals in the surrounding area. Once you know the startup or shut down sequence, you can proceed to shutting the equipment down safely.
SECURE THE ENERGY SOURCE
Now that the equipment has been shut down, it is the duty of the person performing the work on the equipment to secure said equipment against accidental restart. There are two primary means of accomplishing this in the eyes of OSHA. The first is referred to as Lock Out and the second less desirable option is Tag Out. Obviously, locking a piece of equipment out with the use of a physical lock prevents a third party from being able to restart the equipment while it is being worked on. That is why it is the more desirable option. But in some cases, it is not possible to lock a piece of equipment out. When we are faced with the situation, we must tag the system out which visually notifies a potential third party that there is an issue, and that the equipment is being worked on. Either way, placing the tag on the equipment with contact information and any known issues will help prevent an event from taking place that would result in damage to the equipment and/or injury.
TEST AND RETEST
As previously mentioned, there are many different scenarios that we are faced with in the field. We could be working on an electrical circuit feeding a DC power plant, changing out antennas, or servicing a generator. In any case, we must double check to make sure the energy source is truly shut down and secure. We do this by testing and retesting prior to putting ourselves in harm’s way. Test the circuit with a voltmeter, scan the area with an RF monitor, check to make sure the generator is disabled. All these things are crucial prior to executing our assigned tasks.
If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at email@example.com, and we will get you taken care of.