What is ‘Lockout Tagout?’
Lockout Tagout (LOTO) is a commonly used procedure in both research and industrial environments wherever potentially hazardous equipment or machinery exists and is frequently serviced. As defined by the OSHA Lockout Tagout Standard, the purpose of LOTOs is to ensure that any machine or piece of equipment is properly shut off, unable to restart, and therefore will not cause harm to any worker(s) while service or repairs to the equipment are being performed.
In practice, LOTOs regularly involve following these steps:
- The power source for the equipment is identified.
- The power source is turned off and a lock is put in place.
- A tag is placed on the lock to identify the worker performing the LOTO.
- The worker holds the key to that lock while maintenance is in progress. This ensures that no other individual can unlock the power source and restart the machine.
- Once the maintenance is complete, the worker then attempts to turn on the equipment without unlocking it, to confirm proper inactivity.
Adherence to this procedure is crucial to prevent the accidental startup of potentially hazardous machinery while any worker(s) comes into direct contact with it.
Periodic LOTO Inspections
As LOTOs are meant to establish safety for the workers, the onus for following the procedure correctly is, in the end, on the worker performing them. However, employers and supervisors must regularly confirm the quality of these operations. OSHA requires that periodic inspections of each LOTO procedure be carried out, at a minimum of once per year. During LOTO inspections, these determinations must be made:
- The given LOTO procedure is being accurately followed.
- The associated workers fully understand their responsibilities and roles as they pertain to the procedure.
- The steps adequately fulfill the purpose of guaranteeing the safety of workers.
- What changes and/or corrective actions are required (in the case that the LOTO is found to be inadequate).
The final inspection report must also detail the inspector’s name, the equipment associated with that LOTO, the date of inspection, and all employees involved in the inspection.
How Can Inspection Software Help?
A fully featured inspection software can support the LOTO inspection efforts of employers in some far-reaching areas.
- Inspection checklists (including all questions and responses) can be customized and configured to meet the dynamic needs of the different equipment inspections being carried out within a single organization.
- Corrective actions can be generated and assigned electronically to any member of the team (roster) that is associated with the specific piece of equipment or machinery.
- All members of this roster can receive automatic email notifications informing them that the inspection has taken place and allowing them instant access to the inspection report.
- Inspectors can utilize the software for scheduling aspects by setting repeating cycles for each piece of equipment machinery (assets).
- Mobile applications (iOS and Android) that are integrated into software platforms allow for inspections to be carried out on-site where the equipment and its users are located.
- Inspectors can add photos taken with a mobile device and instantly upload them as part of the inspection, increasing the accuracy of the report.
- While the inspection is ongoing, all data is safely saved to the platform’s cloud servers via Wi-Fi or cellular connection, greatly diminishing the potential for miscommunicated data.
Periodic inspections of Lockout Tagout procedures are an integral safety component for any company or facility with potentially hazardous equipment present. Understanding OSHA requirements is half the battle in creating a culture of safety, and having a powerful tool such as cloud-based inspection software at your disposal simplifies the process dramatically. Additionally, the amount of time, energy, and resources saved through upgrading inspections with comprehensive software empowers organizations to focus on improving every other aspect of their safety program.
Joe comes to the SafetyStratus team with over 15 years of experience in the biological sciences and laboratory management and safety. At the University of Connecticut, and later at the University of the Sciences, Joe managed multiple high-volume biology teaching laboratories. He also worked as an Aquatic Biologist for the Philadelphia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds. Most recently Joe held the position of Laboratory Safety Manager in the University of the Sciences’ Environmental Health & Safety Department, overseeing all aspects of safety inspections and compliance in over 150 campus teaching and research spaces.
Originally from Connecticut, Joe has lived in the Philadelphia suburbs for the last 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. In his free time, Joe enjoys working out, taking in a good football game or movie, and traveling with his wife to sunny Caribbean destinations whenever possible.