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    June 24, 2020

    The Basics of Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Training

    Having a robust lockout/tagout program which includes a well-rounded training program is the best way to help keep your employees safe while performing maintenance tasks on equipment.

    If you haven’t invested in lockout/tagout training at all or if your LOTO training is a bit lackluster, then it’s time to invest in this training.

    When equipment or machinery breaks down or needs to be serviced, it usually means an employee must interact with the parts of the equipment inside the “danger zone” in order to fix the problem. Any time this occurs, the employee is at risk of being injured or killed unless the energy is controlled.

    This is where the importance of LOTO training comes in. If you’re updating your program, here’s a quick overview of the essentials of lockout/tagout training.

    The Basics of Lockout/Tagout Training

    There are three overall training requirements within the lockout/tagout standard:

    1. Training to ensure that each classification of lockout employee (Authorized, Affected & Other) understand the purpose and function of the lockout program and that the knowledge and skills required for practicing lockout/tagout in the field are proficient.

    2. Where tagout systems are used, the employees must be trained on the purpose of tags, their limitations, and the requirements for attaching and removing them.

    3. When something within the lockout/tagout program changes, when job tasks change, when deficiencies in the practice of LOTO are discovered and/or when deviations from an energy control procedure (see LOTO and control of hazardous energy) are noted, employees must be retrained. During retraining the employer must ensure that proficiency has been reestablished and must also provide a written certification documenting that proficiency in lockout/tagout has been achieved.

    Why Lockout/Tagout Training Is Important

    Lockout/tagout training is important for several reasons.

    For starters, it’s the law. Per 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(7) which is the standard for the control of hazardous energy, employers are required to provide LOTO training.

    Another reason why LOTO training is important is because part of every LOTO procedure should be steps for properly powering down the equipment and machinery. When equipment is properly powered down, it can prolong the life of the equipment and make it more reliable.

    But the most important reason for providing training is to protect the workforce from harm. If employees aren’t properly trained on the methods and means of identifying hazardous energy and protecting themselves from it, they might be seriously injured or killed.

    As if those aren’t good enough reasons, OSHA estimates that an estimated 120 fatalities and nearly 50,000 injuries per year are avoided when employees are properly trained and follow proper lockout/tagout procedures.

    That’s a lot of employee injuries and fatalities avoided! In fact, to put those numbers into perspective, 50,000 is more than the entire seating capacity of Wrigley Field—by 8,351!

    Developing Your Lockout/Tagout Training Program

    Your LOTO training program is a big part of your overall workplace safety program. Without it, employees performing maintenance on equipment and machinery face serious potential hazards.

    If you’re looking to create a LOTO training program and don’t know where to start or if you’re maybe just in a training rut and are in the market for ideas to improve your existing lockout/tagout training, we can help!

    Make sure to join our upcoming webinar to discuss ways to improve your training. During the webinar we will talk about ideas and concepts to enhance and help improve your training program as well as your other safety training.

    Lockout/Tagout Safety Training Video Introduction

    Who says safety training has to involve a podium and a bored audience? With safety videos, you can make your training materials fast, easy, and accessible to all your employees, regardless of where they access the material.

    This is particularly important for content like LOTO, or the control of hazardous energy. It’s a crucial safety topic, but it’s also a dry one. A lockout/tagout video allows you to take advantage of the quirks of the human brain (90% of the information we process is visual, and visual data is processed 60,000 times faster than text).

    In the first part of the video, you’ll want to convey the reasons for having a lockout program as well as an introduction to the methods and means needed to properly lockout a piece of equipment.

    You’ll also want to include the fact that a lockout program is intended to maintain worker safety by protecting workers from two things:

    • The unexpected energization or startup of machinery or equipment
    • The release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities

    Basically, the safety goal is to make sure that while workers are performing maintenance and/or other service work on equipment or machinery they aren’t injured or killed by someone starting up the equipment or by uncontrolled energy they encounter.

    Part of this introduction should also be to classify the different types of employees within the lockout program and to make sure that the video clearly states who the intended audience is for each segment.

    Recognition of Hazardous Energy Sources

    Identifying the type, magnitude and locations of the energy sources supplying power to your equipment and machinery is another primary element to cover in your video.

    Common hazardous energy sources include:

    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
    • Hydraulic
    • Chemical
    • Thermal
    • Pneumatic

    It’s important to remember that not all energy sources are as straightforward as they may seem. For example, a piece of equipment may utilize hydraulic energy that is controlled by the electrical energy disconnect.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility that by disconnecting one energy source, a secondary energy source may be created. For example, sometimes gravitational energy can become a new source of hazardous energy after disconnecting and bleeding off pneumatic energy.

    When creating a video, you don’t need to cover every individual machine, but you should include enough of the equipment that all energy sources and special situations are addressed.

    Purpose and Use of Energy Control Procedures

    After you’ve introduced some of the energy sources employees will encounter during the course of their workdays, the next topic to consider including in your video should be the actual machine specific energy control procedures you created for each piece of equipment.

    In this part of the video, it would be a terrific idea to video a worker going through the steps of a lockout procedure. This will help people who are still relatively new to LOTO understand how these procedures are used in the field. This would also be good time to answer two critical questions your employees might have:

    1. If a machine is powered down, why do they need protection from hazardous energy?
    2. If a machine has safeguards already in place, why do they need hazardous energy control procedures?

    Use and Limitations of Tags

    If your company has incorporated a tagout system in lieu of lockout locks, you should include information in your video about this. More specifically, you should include the purpose of the tagout system, the limitations of using tags in lieu of a lockout lock, how tags are to be applied and the rules for removal.

    One of the perks of creating a video is that it’s possible to show the actual limitations of using a tag instead of a lockout lock which gives employees a firsthand look at just how limiting tags can be.

    Putting Your Lockout/Tagout Training Video to Work

    Of course, as a safety professional, you know that a lockout/tagout training video won’t do you any good in a vacuum. You have to put it into action, and that’s where we can help.

    Our safety training software makes it easy to deliver critical safety content to your employees, testing their performance and seeing real results. Want to see our software in action? Get in touch today to learn more.

    Katy Lyden, MS, OHST

    Katy Lyden is a Domain Analyst and EHS Subject Matter Expert for StarTex Software, the company behind EHS Insight. Prior to her current role, Katy spent 17 years successfully leading EHS programs for several large companies within the manufacturing industry. Katy is a Navy veteran, retired Emergency Medical...