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The Importance of Lockout/Tagouts in Maintenance

  • Last Updated: October 21, 2013
  • Greg Arbour
  • 2 min read

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In 2011, two maintenance engineers in Arizona were finishing up repair work inside an 8-ft-diameter pipeline carrying hot oil from a pumping station to a secondary processing station a mile away. The pumping station at the oil source was opened and closed by a remote control room.

During the repair, the two maintenance techs had properly locked out the pipeline valves and pumping stations and then brought them back online after they completed the repair and cleared the area. However, two supervisors decided to inspect the work without following the proper procedure of locking out the valves and alerting the control room in advance. While the supervisors were still in the pipe, the valves were released by control and the two men met a regrettable end. Failure to comply with the proper Lockout/Tagout procedure had cost them their lives.

“In the US, preventable work place accidents involving uncontrolled energy sources result in 50, 000 injuries and 120 deaths every year.”1

What is a LO/TO?

For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, a Lockout/Tagout procedure is essentially a way of securing an area or piece of equipment prior to a repair so that any inadvertent release or operation is avoided. According to OSHA: “Lockout/Tagout is a complete program used to control hazardous energy during the servicing or maintenance of equipment, when the start up of the equipment or the release of stored energy could cause injury to employees.”2

There are four elements to the program:

1. Energy control procedures – including standard methods and documentation

2. Employee Training – make sure all employees are up to date anytime there is turnover or new machinery

3. Tags and Lockout devices – used to indicate or physically prevent the activation of a machine

4. Inspection – periodic re-evaluation of the LO/TO program to ensure methods and employee training are up to date

Watch the OSHA video here.

Sample LO/TO Procedure.

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Why would you want to integrate LO/TO system into your CMMS?

There are a few obvious advantages:

  • Eliminate redundancy from having to enter similar data into both systems
  • Reduce training requirements (one system instead of two)
  • A single system allows for better access to data, and a more complete picture since records for LO/TO can be easily cross-referenced with their related maintenance tasks.
  • This last point is more subtle; by combining the procedures for safety and maintenance it ensures the safety element of the repair is not marginalized by being relegated to a separate procedure, and is instead put front and center in the repair process.

In Fiix, there are a few ways to accomplish this integration:

1) Capture the LO/TO procedure in a task list. By doing this, it’s only three clicks to add the Lockout/Tagout procedure to the Work Order.LOTO 1

2) Add the LO/TO task list to a Scheduled Maintenance, so it appears every time there is a PM for the asset. Or, attach the Task List to an Asset Category(eg. the HVAC category) so every time there is a Work Order on an HVAC piece of equipment, the task list is automatically included.

3) Finally, if you have a complex procedure that doesn’t easily fit in a task list, you can upload the LO/TO document from your computer and store it against the asset where it can be pulled up at anytime.

1. https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-lockout-tagout.pdf

2. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3120.html

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