Lockout/Tag-out Errors: “The Fatal Five”
Lockout/tag-out refers to a series of procedures designed to keep employees safe while servicing or performing maintenance on machinery or other energized systems (i.e. electric, hydraulic, etc.) This handout outlines common lockout/tag-out errors, as well as employee attitudes which can contribute to these oversights. All employees must understand and eliminate these “Fatal Five” errors to reduce the incidence of lockout/tag-out-related injuries in your workplace.
The “Fatal Five” Lockout/Tag-out Errors
- Failure to stop equipment. Employees will sometimes mistakenly place production before safety. They might think that their age or long-term experience operating the machine voids the need to safeguard equipment prior to maintenance or service. Each individual employee is responsible for ensuring they are protected using proper energy controls. If the proper equipment isn’t available speak to your manager so they can obtain the equipment you need to stay safe.
- Failure to disconnect from power source. Using the example of electrical equipment – some workers feel that simply operating the on/off switch is all it takes to stay safe. They discount that the switch may be defective, or that the power may find its way through a short circuit, or some other source.
- Failure to drain residual energy. This could refer to a saw blade spinning due to momentum, a compressed spring, electrical energy stored in capacitors or batteries, even a large object suspended overhead (i.e. punch press.) All these examples of stored energy must be blocked or released before the work can be made safe.
- Accidental restart of machinery. Even if one employee or maintenance crew knows that a shut-down has occurred on a given machine; this doesn’t necessarily mean other workers will as well. Cases where unknowing workers energize equipment and injure their fellow workers are extremely common. In addition to proper lockout/tag-out, clear communications between machine operators and maintenance employees is imperative to control this error.
- Failure to clear work areas prior to resuming normal operations. In general, restarting machines and processes must be done with the same care that was used shutting them down. Forgotten tools, or worse – coworkers, left in the danger zone represent one of the greatest lockout/tag-out hazards. This error is nearly as severe as not locking the machine out in the first place.
Remember to stay safe by following the lockout/tag-out guidelines listed above every time, on every job. Failure to protect yourself can have dire consequences for you, your family, and your employer.
For more information on loss control services contact Jeff Rausch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: 502-708-3124 www.RMSC.com
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