When was the last time you reviewed your Lockout / Tagout procedures?

If yours is a workplace where lockout/tagout procedures are part of daily exercises, you’ll want to be mindful that they don’t become secondary considerations.

These elements — which as noted by OSHA speak to practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment so as to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees perform service and maintenance activities — should be reinforced regularly.

Source: The Business Journals - https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2017/10/take-a-continuous-improvement-approach-to-lockout.html



If yours is a workplace where lockout/tagout procedures are part of daily exercises, you’ll want to be mindful that they don’t become secondary considerations.

Presumably, your lockout/tagout training for authorized employees covered all of the standard’s requirements. Your authorized employees left their initial training sessions knowing all about:

  • The recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources
  • The type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace
  • The methods and means necessary for energy isolation and control
  • Tagout system limitations

And, the training probably told them all about how to use written lockout/tagout procedures. 

Ultimately, though, there comes a time when you can offer refresher training, and when you do that, you have an opportunity to improve the program.

Check the written procedures

Mechanics and maintenance teams can work on dozens of machines in your facility. Sure, each machine has its own unique, descriptive lockout/tagout procedure, but have the mechanics read the procedures for each of the machines they work on? Do they follow them? Are the written procedures a help or a hindrance to the people who need to use them?

For lockout/tagout refresher training, work with your authorized employees to go through the details of the lockout/tagout procedures.

Start with what’s important

Target the refresher training to areas that are important to the authorized employees.

Ask them if they are unsure about any parts of the procedures for any of the machines or equipment they service.

Schedule a training session, and meet at the machine. Have the mechanics show you the part of the procedure that is unclear. Work with them to explain the procedure. Don’t hesitate to call in an expert (electrician, engineer, etc.) if the questions are more than the training group can handle. If necessary, revise the written procedure until it’s easier to understand.

This same kind of thorough, machine-specific refresher training also needs to be done when machines and equipment are moved or introduced.

Be user-friendly

Emphasize that you want the written procedures to be accurate and easy to use. If your veteran mechanics are having problems with a procedure, correct it before contractors or new employees rely on it.

Be open to suggestions for adding illustrations or changing the format of the written procedures. Would labels on the machine help?

Trained and informed authorized employees keep your lockout/tagout program alive. Involving them in reviews of lockout/tagout procedures recognizes them as being the authorities that they are.

Judie Smithers is an editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, a compliance resource company that offers products and services to business professionals. Smithers’ subject matter expertise covers safety training, lockout/tagout, permit-required confined spaces, hearing conservation, exposure monitoring, personal protective equipment, asbestos, lead, radiation, and illumination. Previously, Smithers was the health and safety information coordinator for an industrial company.
Confined space access risks
Lucky no-one was seriously hurt!


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