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Lockout/Tagout: Lessons Learned


Written by Malcolm Ritchie, BS, QSSP, HMTRI and Authorized OSHA Outreach Instructor 

Recently, a Customer’s employee had just suffered at work an amputation of two fingers on one hand. The Customer wanted to know what he needed to do. Obviously, my first question was to ask if the employee had used the Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedure. Much to my surprise, the employee had used LOTO, and correctly. So, what happened?

While the equipment was de-energized while being repaired, the employee had rolled a very large and heavy gear by hand to test. The inertia of the handspun wheel caught his fingers and amputated two of them. Even when equipment is de-energized, it is permissible to test by hand, but only if proper LOTO is performed. What was needed here was additional training on this specific testing procedure and that had not been documented as being performed.

When working on equipment and machinery, all functions and tasks must be looked at and anticipated as to what could happen. This must be discussed, employees trained and documented showing that employees were trained. Yes, LOTO is required by OSHA for all equipment which has any energy (springs, capacitors, gravity, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, pressure, etc.). All energized equipment must have a procedure to safely de-energize and to re-energize. The above employee example is what else could happen that may not be mentioned in your LOTO procedures. However, OSHA clearly states it is the employers duty to train employees and protect them from any/other potential hazards. Hand turning a heavy gear with the inertia energy in the hand turned wheel must be discussed and employees trained on how to safely do this when performing repairs on these types of equipment.

Are you OSHA ready when it comes to LOTO procedures? Call Malcolm today at 256.627.0804 to schedule your LOTO or other General Safety Programs.