The modern age requires machines to build infrastructure and bring about development. The machines work regularly to produce items which could be anything from glue stick and television sets to tanks and missiles. One very important issue that arrives with these machines apart from industrial waste is ‘Safety’.
The safety is of the people who come in contact with the machines like workers, engineers, supervisors and so on. Energy Isolation helps protect these people from hazards caused by heavy machines & equipment.
Energy Isolation – It means separating all forms of energy from the machines and declaring the machine ‘safe’ for maintenance & service to go on. The hazards could be caused by mechanical, thermal or hydraulic forms of energy.
The Lock out Tag out procedure developed by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) is worth mentioning here.
What is Lock Out /Tag out (LOTO)
LOTO is a safety procedure followed to declare the industrial machines safe. The machines shall be incapable of starting again without the prior knowledge of all the people involved.
Lock Out – It means locking the concerned device and keeping it away from any power-inducing source. The machine should not be capable of restarting again without warning.
This involves locking devices like:
• Circuit breakers
• Cable lockouts
• Valves & springs
• Disconnect switches
• Key combinations
• Pneumatic lockouts
Tag Out – This refers to a process of labeling the device as powerless. The attached pointer includes: why the tag is there, time of application of the tag, & name of the authorized person.
All LOTO devices must have some standard functions and should meet the following requirements.
• Identifying the authorized person
• High durability level
• A “Do not open, start” warning
• Uniform in color, size, print, shape and format
• Devices should resist early removal, except using specific tools like bolt cutters, wire cutters etc.
• Non-releasable tags
Basic steps of the procedure:
– Preparation for shutdown
– Notifying all employees
– Equipment shutdown
– Isolation from hazardous energy
– Dispelling of left-over energy
– Locking & Tagging the machines
– Performing maintenance or service activity
– Verification (observation, visual inspection & equipment testing)
– Removing Locks & Tags
– Notifying all employees to resume work
There are three important definitions that are to be kept in mind while following these steps:
System – This refers to the machinery, process and equipment.
Authorized Employee – This refers to the person who’s qualified to carry out the lockout process.
Affected Employee – These employees work in the machines. They are not qualified to carry out the procedure like workers, housekeeping staff, ground staff etc.
Responsibility is Safety
There are several responsible people for the job to take place smoothly.
The managers are responsible for drafting & updating. Monitoring the job is their primary aim.
The supervisors are responsible for ensuring that everyone follows protocols.
The employees are responsible for assisting and reporting issues if/when they occur.
A LOTO work manual should always be read before proceeding. The instructions contain the details about the isolation & shutdown process, the technical know-how of the installations & so on. It is advisable to read them carefully to carry out an effective & safe lockout process.