What is “LOTO”?
LOTO is the acronym for LOCKOUT / TAGOUT.
OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) standard 29 CFR 1910.147 defines the system and regulations for isolating and locking various Hazardous Energy sources to prevent accidental or un-authorized startup of machinery and equipment during Servicing*, Maintenance* and Commissioning.
Lockout / Tagout involves the use of Physical Locks and restraining devices commonly known as LOTO devices to immobilize and restrain energy sources from being operated by anyone other than the person who has physically locked the energy source.
*(Service or maintenance includes erecting, installing, constructing, repairing, adjusting, inspecting, un-jamming, setting up, trouble-shooting, testing, cleaning, and dismantling machines, equipment or processes).
Your employer has a duty to ensure you are properly equipped with the right tools and training to work safely without exposing yourself to hazards from unsecured equipment.
Each worker is required to have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
Electrical, Mechanical, Hydraulic & Pneumatic comprise some of the most common energy sources. Steam, Gravity, Potential, Chemical and Radiation are other energy sources existing independently or as a result of reactions between a combination of different media or energy sources.
Uncontrolled energy causing the sudden and unexpected movement of a machine or any part of a machine can kill or injure you. Each year workers are killed, body parts are crushed, and others lose fingers, hands, arms. For example, in just two years in California (2005 and 2006) there were 9 fatalities and 113 amputations.
Why do accidents happen?
Some common reasons include:
- All hazardous energy sources were not de-energized and controlled.
- Equipment was not locked out or tagged out after powering off.
- Did not actually think through the steps of the energy control before starting work.
- Inadequate or no training.
- Took shortcuts.
It is important to remember that just turning off a switch is not the same as lockout because there is still energy in the switch. If there is a short at the switch or the machine is accidentally turned on, it will energize and cause it to run.
Remember that many types of hazardous energy sources such as springs, or air, oil, steam or water pressure can cause sudden and unexpected movement of machines and hurt or kill you. To work safety, all hazardous energy sources must be controlled so that no machine or machine part can move.
Sometimes, machines and equipment must be serviced with the power on. If so, your employer must minimize the hazards to you by providing extension tools (e.g., extended swabs, brushes, scrapers) or other methods to protect you from injury. Be sure you get trained on how to use these tools or methods and always use them properly.